Earlier this week my mom told me something interesting, “If you had been my first baby, I wouldn’t have had any more.”
Mind you, I’m the youngest of six children.
Since I was old enough to care, I’ve asked a lot of questions about my family- where we came from, who our ancestors are, etcetera. I know that my mom wanted ten children and my dad wanted two. They somehow settled at six. My assumption is that raising each of us became progressively more difficult. The oldest sibling is an incredibly mellow guy. He’s very even keeled, loves his family, and he has a great sense of humor. From what my mom has told me, he was a calm and sweet baby. Fast forward to the stories I’ve been told about my infancy, and I can see why my mom said that about me. I cried until I was five years old, taking breaks only to sleep and eat. I’m not a weepy, emotional adult, but I am what most consider to be a “difficult” person, prone to confrontation and threatening to punch or run over people. My doctors have told me I am patient, and I correct them by saying, “My husband would call me ‘obstinate’.”
I’m pretty sure my child has my disposition.
That being said, I know that many mothers, including my own, would handle the stress of raising him quite differently from how I handle it. I honestly believe some women would break down by mid-afternoon every day. Some would be completely unaffected, some would snap. I am nothing if not stubborn and I tend to muscle through difficulties with bull horns. I am sure there will be epic battles in my house when Fletch is old enough to lock horns with me. God bless him, poor kid.
So how did my mom do it? I would rather shave my head once a week and clip off my fingertips than have six children. I don’t have the patience or the selflessness to bring that many humans into fruition.
Frankly put, my mom and I are completely different people.
She would rather bake someone a dozen cupcakes than tell them something negative about themselves. I’d rather eat the dozen cupcakes and tell that person exactly how I feel about them and hope their suicide note doesn’t mention me by name. My mom is much warmer than I am. That’s not to say I’m a biker chick with a heart of steel, but I don’t believe in protecting someone’s feelings. When my mom went into protective mother mode for my siblings and myself, she had the ability to kill people with kindness. I already know that when I go into protective mother mode, I have the ability to kill people with arsenic and a healthy dose of “face against the curb” action.
There are aspects of my mother’s personality that I want to have. She’s incredibly generous. She’s nurturing. She’s sweet. But, there are plenty of aspects of a super model’s body I’d like to have, too, and unless I pay for them, I probably won’t ever have them.
When I have stepped outside myself to evaluate my maternal success or failure, I learned:
-I am relentless
-I am nurturing, in a very different way
-I am willing to sacrifice anything for my child
-I am infinitely proud of my baby
Am I Sarah Connor, defending my baby boy with automatic rifles and high powered shot guns? No. But will I suffer through hell to feed my baby the way God intended? Yes. Do I secretly beam with pride when people tell me how beautiful he is? Of course. If I am rough around the edges, it is only to keep me from getting a big head about how awesome he is. If I don’t lavish superfluous compliments on him when he gets a B on a math test, it’s only because I want him to do his best and to try as hard as he can. If I drag him by his shirt collar out of a bad situation, it’s only because I expect him to be the best he can be. He’s my baby. And while I’m not my mother, I’m still a pretty darn good one for my child.