Ahhh … motherhood. It fills our lives with new wonder, experiences, and challenges. It reopens our eyes to the magic of childhood and shows us what we’re made of. It also brings us all kinds of new ways to embarrass ourselves.
In the nine years since my daughter was born I have made my share of bumbles, fumbles, and addlebrained moves. My favorite story took place on a winter afternoon when my daughter was still an infant. She was born in January of 2004 – one of the coldest, snowiest winters we’d had around here in a long while. Prior to giving birth, I had enjoyed daily walks with my wonderful Rhodesian Ridgeback, Spencer. The two of us would traipse through the wooded trails of the nearby state park for an hour or more, stretching our legs and clearing our heads.
After my daughter arrived, our daily walks came to a grinding halt. Not only was I anxious about exposing my little bundle of joy to the season’s harsh winds and chilly temps, but I had some pretty serious healing to do after a less-than-perfect birth (another story entirely). I missed those walks awfully. My dog missed them, too. As the days and weeks went by and sleep deprivation became a way of life, I started to get a little stir crazy.
One afternoon, I finally cracked. It was frigid outside, but bright and sunny. Spencer looked at me hopefully with his soulful, amber eyes. It had been a particularly bad day and, suffering as I was a complete lack of sleep, my emotions were very fragile. I looked at my faithful companion and was suddenly overwhelmed with the enormity of the changes in my life. I felt helpless and hopeless and completely unable to handle the responsibilities of being someone’s mom. I wanted to be able to do the things I used to – like going for walks and sleeping. And wanting those things made me feel guilty, which only made me feel worse. I began to sob.
I decided that enough was enough. We were going out.
Choking back tears, I began to assemble everything we needed for our walk. I dressed my daughter in piles of polar fleece and fitted her car seat with its fuzzy liner and fleece cover. I packed a bottle, extra binkies, and a half dozen burp cloths. I dug up all my winter clothes – coat, hat, scarf, ear warmer, gloves. I pulled on my dog’s coat (which was no small feat since he was so excited at the prospect of a walk, he couldn’t stop wiggling). I wrestled the stroller into the backseat, clicked the car seat into its base, and heaved my dog into the back of the SUV.
Still sniffling and feeling sorry for myself, I slumped into the driver’s seat and turned the key. It was a short drive to the park. Upon arrival, Spencer nearly jumped over me in his delight at being back at our old stomping grounds. As he snuffled about in the snow and waited impatiently for me, I began unloading the car.
It was during the awkward process of unfolding the stroller that I realized something was amiss. In my angst-ridden haste to depart, I had remembered all of my baby’s things and all of my dog’s things, but I had forgotten one of my things: my boots. There I was, standing in the snow-covered parking lot of the state park with a bundled up baby and an overjoyed canine, wearing … my bedroom slippers.
The realization could have pushed me right over the edge, but instead, I started to laugh. The absurdity of the situation was just too much. I can’t say that it was my last tearful afternoon, but it was a turning point. I knew in that moment that motherhood was going to be a crazier ride than I ever could have imagined and that if I didn’t let go of some expectations and improve my sense of humor, I was going to be in for it.
We went for the walk anyway, slippers and all. No one seemed to mind. We returned to the house still over-tired and reeling from the gravity of the changes in our world, but somehow feeling better equipped to handle the adventure. Sometimes, it takes an addlebrained mommy moment to remind us that everything is going to be okay. After all, if we can survive the insanity of those crazy days, we can do anything.
Image Credit: Q. Thomas Bower