I read once that when a baby is born they don't comprehend they are an individual outside of the mother. They do not know where we begin and they end. I can buy that. The bond that tethers us together is like nothing I've ever felt. Those early days like glue. And then later more like magnets.
And then in toddlerhood the magnets flip back and forth. They cling. And they push. They pull us toward them and then they run in the opposite direction (really fast and I have the fresh scars to prove it). They are becoming people. Real live boys and girls. And they are learning to live without us. I am watching as before my eyes Wilder becomes an individual apart from me. He is fighting and thriving and craving independence. It's a beautiful thing to watch. (Some days it's more like a game of Battleship over here in a sea of fruit snacks and flying trains and things feel real unbeautiful.)
He's only two and a half and yet I already feel he's started that slow walk away from me and into himself. I feel now more like his home base. I try not to helicopter him. Or fly away when he needs me here in the nest. It's a balance I can't imagine any of us perfect. Like all things in parenthood it feels so comparative. Compared to some I am that mom that sees danger everywhere and to others I get the sense I'm far too lax.
No matter who or what or where I do take this motherhood thing about as seriously as a person can. There is perhaps no one that shapes a man's character like his mother. No pressure! And I know now that there is nothing that reveals a woman's character like motherhood.
People talk a lot about how their lives changed with motherhood. It's true. But, I find like most pressure cookers, motherhood reveals the stuff we're already made of. It can break us or strengthen us. (Clearly you've never gone to Walgreens with my son if you think they aren't trying to break us. That wrapping paper roll is NOT a horsey! You cannot ride it down the aisle!)
Ask which I am — strong or broken? A little bit of both. It depends on the day. I think motherhood requires a bit of both. Brokenness and strength. But, every day I am trying. And every day I am mommying. Motherhood has a lot of verbs — wiping, praying, crying, hugging, kissing, running, catching, cooking, rocking, nursing, begging, bribing, carrying, falling, loving. Love. It's the thread that holds it all together. It's the glue that keeps our hearts from breaking and the steel that strengthens our resolve for the tough moments of this journey.
If I've learned one thing about life it's that once you become a mother there are times when you don't know where they end and where you begin. Sometimes that's okay. Other times, it's time to be you. To be a woman and a sister and a friend and a wife and a writer and a human.
If there's one thing I've learned about toddlerhood it's that these tiny humans are meant to separate and thrive and we are meant to love them relentlessly and incessantly and sometimes from a distance.
From how far away? Sometimes a few inches and sometimes a few feet. But, my eyes are always on him. And my heart is always wrapped around him. Even when he's miles away and even when I'm ready to scream because really it's just so hard to get scrambled eggs and guacamole out of the carpet.
The truth is that I am not me without him anymore. Love does that to a person. It's not the nap schedule or the newfound ability to catch throw up in your hands without puking yourself or even watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse back-to-back (to back to back to back to back ...) that changes us.
There's a love so powerful you'll never be the same again. In my house it's called Wilder.