Despite the 10-month and a few days too long pregnancy, the two-day labor, four-day hospital stay, and four digit hospital bill, I didn’t really feel like a mommy for the first few months of my daughter’s life. Uncertain as to what being a mommy actually felt like, I just knew without a doubt that I wasn’t feeling “it” even as I celebrated a beautiful Mother’s Day just a few short weeks after the birth of my beautiful baby girl.
Now fast forward two-and-a-half years later, and I’ll tell you that I physically, mentally, financially, and otherwise feel every bit like a mommy. I’ve got both tangible and intangible proof that I am indeed a mommy. Even when I’m not mothering, which in reality I don’t think I am ever not mothering; so let me rephrase, even when my little one is not physically in my presence, I still feel like a mommy. Thanks to my membership to motherhood I now understand, and usually more willingly accept, my mother’s – the best Momie ever! – unsolicited advice and protection although I’m on the verge of being dirty-thirty. A mother’s job is never done.
So, after just tucking my little one in for the third time after a couple of episodes of vomiting at an insane time of the morning I present to you How You Know You’re A Mommy…
- When you get up in the middle of the night to change and wash dirty linen bathed in your child’s bodily fluids. Gross, but we do it.
- When you muster up enough strength to lift a toddler mid-air so as that precious bottom doesn’t touch the seat of a public commode.
- When you pick boogies out of a nose that is more crusty than the lips of Dave Chappelle’s character Tyrone Biggums. Now that is some kind of crusty!
- When you’d risk being mistaken for a hobo or crazy person after having a night/early morning like I’ve just experienced, but still make sure that your child(ren) is clean, pristine, and ready for a close up.
- When you give them the last of your food because they claim to still be hungry although they’ve eaten an entire kids meal.
- When your heart melts after they hug you and affectionately dub you “Mommy” even though you just disciplined them 2 minutes earlier for misbehaving.
- When you don’t make any plans for your future before thinking of them first and how they’d be impacted by your decision(s).
- When you work harder than you’ve ever worked in your life just to provide stability and security that they can rely on.
- When you allow them to lay in bed with you even though you just want to sprawl out across the bed without concern of waking up to a tiny toe in your nostril.
- When you protect your child(ren) with a level of ferocity that even you didn’t know you possessed.
- When you can easily wake from your slumber at the faintest sound of their discomfort.
- When your child inspires greatness in you and leads you to strive to be a better woman, parent, and partner so that your child has a role model whose behavior he/she can emulate.
In a previous post I shared a list of new and old holiday traditions from my childhood that I planned to experience with my daughter. The day before Thanksgiving marked the commencement of our holiday tradition bonanza. Today we continued creating memories and making traditions. For the first time ever my daughter and I stood on the side-walk – one of us with a grueling backache in the aftermath of holding a 30-pound toddler – to partake in the local annual Christmas parade.
It was easy to tell that some bystanders have long included the annual Christmas parade as a family tradition. The veteran onlookers were decked with lawn chairs, mugs of some variety of hot cocoa, tea, or coffee, and blankets. Yours truly had the daily essentials: lip balm and gloss, peppermints, phone, camera (with a dead battery), and sunglasses. Little One had her mittens and fruit snack. She declined the offer to be pushed around in her stroller. It was a nice day for walking, so hey, what did I care that she wanted to be healthy and get her blood pumping with a few thousand blocks of walking? Good girl I thought.
Two hours, no stroller, no Daddy, no camera battery, and no back support. Did I mention my lingering backache?
Those two hours were filled with watching the Marching Force from my alma mater, Hampton University, march proudly down the street playing classic Christmas tunes that most, if not all, of us are familiar with. We saw a number of inflatable character floats one after the other, the Harlem Globetrotters, and even a troop of tiny cheerleaders, oddly not cheering, smiling, waving, or yelling, “happy holidays” to the crowd.
Came the float carrying 8 men dressed in uniform. I’m not referring to the big man in the red and white suit (what is that, velvet?) and his elves I’m talking about 8 men decked in freshly pressed military regalia. Blame it on the dull pain in my lower back, or the absence of my lovely husband who could have prevented the pain in my back, but I uncharacteristically was pretty excited to see the men in uniform, standing tall, dignified, and demanding respect. Exciting indeed. I smiled and waved, yelled, “Happy Holidays” and “Merry Christmas.” I even saluted one very handsome officer! My, oh my. Don’t ask me why I did it.
My daughter enjoyed the parade. More than the parade she enjoyed being amongst the hundreds of onlookers who also included this year’s parade on their tradition to-do list. Mommy enjoyed the parade too. Especially…well, I won’t hurt hubby’s feelings, but you all know what my favorite part was, next to seeing the joy on my baby’s face of course.
Moving forward our holiday traditions list will include annual Christmas parade with fine men in uniform on float. No exceptions!
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My family isn’t one to really use the word “tradition” to reference our holiday celebrations, but on each holiday the expected ritual is that we all gather at my grandmother’s house for gift exchanges, my grandmother’s soul food, and my aunts baked from scratch cakes. We spend the evening playing a game of Scattergories where my Aunt Dorothy will inevitable cheat and have all of her answers ignored and thereby be declared the loser before the game ever begins, followed by the family sitting (some standing as we are a very large family) watching terrible homemade movies that always, always, always ends in laughter. The older I get the more I am reminded of how my childhood growing up in San Francisco was abundantly rich filled with “traditions” and unwavering relationships.
As my little one is growing up right before my eyes I ask myself this holiday season, what traditions will we create as a family? What will my little one say of her childhood; how will she complete the sentence, “We always did _____ for the holidays? The only way to foster traditions are to first create them. This year we’ll continue with the traditions that started when I was a graduate student dating my hubby, then boyfriend, along with the traditions that came about with the birth of our baby girl, and start new traditions that one day my daughter will say, “As a child we always…”
- Fixed Thanksgiving dinner so that we’d have leftovers cooked in our own kitchen.
- Wore festive pajamas for major holidays.
- Unwrapped 25 books – some handpicked by me at the library, some store-bought. Mommy would wrap each book and place it under the Christmas tree for me to unwrap each night beginning on December 1st leading up to Christmas day.
- Listened to Bob Marley, a CD Mommy and Daddy coined “our Christmas music,” while decorating the Christmas tree right after Thanksgiving.
- Exchanged Christmas stockings on Christmas Eve.
- Scoured the “Black Friday” ads and got a head start shopping on the morning of Thanksgiving.
- Watched Christmas movie classics while sprawled out on the sofa under the handmade quilt “Created with Grandmother’s Love.”
- Drank hot chocolate topped with marshmallows and a peppermint stick.
- Mailed Christmas cards to my family and friends.
- Read the story of Jesus’ birth.
- Stayed up late on New Year’s Eve dancing, flipping the channels between New York’s Time Square ball drop and Nick Jr’s countdown, eating hors d’oeuvre’s and sipping sparkling apple cider from a plastic champagne flute…fancy!
- Using my acting chops in the church’s annual Christmas program.
- Ice skating, or more aptly, falling on the ice, with Mommy and Daddy.
- Had a never ending playlist of holiday music.
Follow me on Pinterest for holiday tradition ideas. What traditions will you uphold or create this year?
A Mother’s “I Have a Dream” Speech
I have a dream that one day my children will fall asleep at the exact moment that sleep begins its silent attack on my own body
I dream that they would stay asleep long after I awake from a much-needed nap
I have a dream that my husband and child will surprise me by having a father’s-daughter weekend leaving little ole me to figure out what to do with myself in a silent home all alone
I have a dream that America’s education system will rebound beyond my wildest dreams and become cost efficient and worth the post education tuition that Sallie Mae will inevitable one day stalk my child for the monthly payment
I have a dream that children will forever be the epitome of innocence for at least 18 years from birth
I still have a dream “that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”
I have a dream that potty training will soon become a thing of the past as the next generation of children will be so smart and self-sufficient that they won’t need a trainer to learn to use the potty
I have a dream that all stores and restaurants will one day have a drive thru line for mothers who have to take extra measures to carry a car seat, “shush” baby, and entertain an inquisitive toddler, each time they step out in public. Not to mention how darn heavy the car seat is and how each time we exit the car with the children we put ourselves at risk of tennis elbow or a panic attack
I have a dream that our daughters won’t suffer from low self-esteem or aspire to emulate the “perfection” and dysfunction seen on print, the small and big screens
I dream that our children won’t be bullied and won’t participate in the wretched act of bullying
I have a dream that our children won’t be labeled and stigmatized
I have a dream that our children be protected from harm
I have a dream that our children will not neglect and abandon us in our old age when we may be too feeble, demented and debilitated to care for ourselves
I have a dream that our children will eat every morsel of food prepared and set before them despite the color or texture
I have a dream that we are able to rear our children in the way they should go
I have a dream that one day, after we’ve raised our children to be respectful, loving, law-abiding, and law changing adults, we can be friends with our children
I dream we won’t stifle our children with the expectations that we may have of them but encourage them to create expectations and goals for themselves
I dream that they will dream bigger than us
I have a dream that my daughter will always affectionately call me “Mommy” and consider me her best friend and fiercest protector
I have a dream that my child will detach her little body from my leg long enough to allow me an opportunity to actually have a dream this long and detailed
I have a dream that our children will one day experience the unconditional love that we’ve had the pleasure of feeling since the day we learned of their presence in our body
I have a dream their dreams will become reality