Being Mom is the ultimate DIY project. Sure, you can get advice and instructions, but what you make of it—and all the steps you take along the way—are your own amazing improvisation. We asked some of the moms in Hallmark’s Creative Writing Studio the same simple, impossible question: What does being Mom mean to you?
Getting pregnant with my son even though I knew that it would mean living a wine- and sushi-less existence for 40ish whole weeks. (If that’s not love, what is???)
Feeling like my body had turned into a crazy science experiment.
Boobs, you guys! I actually grew boobs!
Seeing him for the first time and being amazed that I, who am not super artsy, had just crafted the most perfect human ever.
Knowing instantly that I would do everything and anything to protect, love and care for him forever and ever. And ever.
Going from being a champion sleeper, to waking up at all hours of the night because he made a noise or hey maybe it was just the wind blowing outside, but better get up and make sure he’s still alive.
Being snot-, spit-up- and pee-covered, and totally not caring.
Being unreasonably, ridiculously happy to see another person roll over, walk, and laugh.
Having my designer purse be turned into a diaper, three-kinds-of-wipes and applesauce (organic, of course!) carrier.
Accepting the fact that I might never use the bathroom alone again.
Being 100% fine with eating dinner at what used to be happy-hour-o’clock, and going to sleep at what used to be goin’-to-the-movies-or-a-club-o’clock.
Trading in the cool downtown house for a house in the ’burbs because now things like school districts and carpeted finished basements matter.
Actually considering buying a minivan. (Not doing it, but considering it.)
Finding out that I was making yet ANOTHER most perfect human ever. (Yay!)
Feeling SO excited and SO lucky to meet the newest addition to our little family very, very soon!
Oh, and reconsidering the minivan now. Seriously.
Being a mom changed me in a million tiny ways. I lost sleep and gained weight and started talking about poop way more than any human should. I learned how to slow down and plan ahead and always carry a lollipop in my purse in case someone needs to not talk nonstop during his sister’s piano recital. Oh, and my feet grew an entire size, which was not a bad thing because new shoes, yo.
Those little changes are the ones you read about. The ones you see in commercials if you have the cheap Hulu plan. Those little changes are the ones you expect.
What I didn’t expect was the guiding force I felt—the sense of purpose so strong it couldn’t be ignored. I’d felt this before, with writing, with marrying my soulmate…but being responsible for these tiny, perfect people brought the rest of my life into sharper focus.
Suddenly, I could speak up. I grew brave, in the kind of way where you’re scared but you do it anyway. It’s not always easy for me to stand up and advocate for what is right for my kids, my family. It’s not always comfortable or even tear-free. Because, um YEAH I’m scared. I don’t love speaking up and standing up when it would be so much easier not to. But my mom instinct is loud, and fierce, and smart. The love and pride I feel when I think about my kiddos…it’s stronger than fear. It’s my compass and I will never regret following it.
My younger son just turned seventeen and lately I find myself mentally patting my pockets, looking for some piece of wisdom or practical skill I forgot to give him. Does he know how to change a tire? Write a formal letter? Set up a budget?
It’s like I’m weaving the last threads of an invisible security blanket to throw over him when he leaves the nest. I imagine it being woven from love and memories, but mostly maternal anxiety. It’s embroidered with my favorite mom-isms, like, “Separate the laundry,” “Lock the door,” and “Get more sleep!” I imagine that my invisible magic blanket will protect him, driving away bad decisions, random accidents, and whatever misfortunes my overactive imagination can invent.
Watching him grow into adulthood feels a lot like watching his first steps—exciting and scary. Free from my arms, he took off walking so fast that we nicknamed him “the runaway child.” He’d wander away in the grocery store or the library, leaving me frantically searching every aisle. Maybe he was showing me then that he was just fine navigating the world in his own way.
Perhaps that’s what motherhood is. Easing out the ties that bind you, letting your kids venture into the world. Wishing you could keep them forever safe. Knowing you can’t.
I’ve got a little while before the nest is actually empty, so I’d better start adjusting. But first, I think I’ll check to see that he’s memorized his social security number. Because you never know.
Never letting go
Jeannie H. has two thirty-something sons. Here’s what Being Mom means to her:
I have a serious crush on one of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
T. Barry Brazelton is my Dalai Lama.
I want to crown Mister Rogers king of the whole entire flippin’ universe.
During the two-in-diapers-and-bottles years, Taco Bell became my mecca.
I worship Dr. Graham for telling a very worried little Donny, “Chicks dig scars.”
I remain in awe of the day little Gene saw God coming down through the sunbeams in our backyard, causing him to wet his pants.
To this day, seeing sippy cups in the aisle at Target wrecks me, so I hurry up and don’t look.
I miss the smell of Play-Doh.
I suspect orthodontists are handmaidens of the devil.
I believe party balloons are worth whatever price the market will bear.
Same for birthday cakes. The bigger the better. Use allll the food colorings.
A foyer full of empty sneakers triggers fizzy memories of girls and boys and giggles and basement music.
Frying a hamburger just right is the one culinary skill I shall forever treasure above all others.
Closely followed by my savant-like mastery of Ro-Tel dip.
I realize what a mad scramble it all was.
I know I could never, ever count how many times Grandma saved the day.
Every day I live I am grateful that no one went to prison.
“Stand By Me” is my favorite movie. And my favorite song.
The phrase “Senior Year” can still trigger my nervous breakdown.
I refuse to get rid of Donny’s Pogs. Or Gene’s telescope.
I know for a fact that I was nowhere close to as good of a mom as they deserved.
I learned that love is huge and permanent and cosmic and crushing and eternal.
I’d give anything to get to do it all—every bit of it—again.