Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A break in the fog

I think I have yet to explain the actual title of this blog.  Mother “fog” doesn’t only apply to the flightiness and lack of memory that mothers often joke about, but also to a rather significant haze that many of us feel throughout the first year and beyond.  I have spent some time discussing this with friends of mine.  Some are mothers, some are health care professionals and some are both. I have even gone as far as to discuss it with my own doctors to be sure I am not ignoring signs of something more significant.  The answers I have gotten have been somewhat unanimous.  This is just what should be expected. The first few years of motherhood, women most often find themselves in survival mode, especially once the second child is born so closely on the heels of the first.   Even more so, for those us that struggle with rigid perfectionism. 
While on one hand, it is reassuring to hear that I am not crazy, it is also disheartening to think that I have to merely “survive” this precious time in my life and the lives of my children.  I don't want to wake up clear headed one day 3 years from now and realize I have blindly barreled through a few of the sweetest years of my babies’ lives.  Right now, there seems to be a constant static, leaving me feeling frantic and unfocused.  When visiting with friends during playdates or parties, I often feel like I'm running behind the conversation or racing 5 miles in front of it. Never right on top of it.  I want so desperately to fully drop into my life with my kids and savor every minute.  Notice I did not say “love” every minute, as I believe that is unattainable.  But, “savor” the good, the bad and all of the chaos in between.
It breaks my heart to say that I have not been able to do this since Isabelle was born. And if I am to be painfully honest, probably much longer before that.  Since the loss of our first baby girl, late in the pregnancy, I have literally spent the last 3 years going from grieving, to obsessively trying to conceive, to pregnant, to figuring out how to be a Mom, to surprisingly pregnant again.  I am just now attempting to catch my breath if not my hormones.
But today was my baby’s birthday.  My precious little boy, whom I love in a way that is indescribable, turned 2.  What better day for the sun to break through than today?  Steve and I went back and forth for 2 months with different birthday party ideas.   Do we host a party here? At a park? An indoor playroom?  Any idea we came up with required a lot of work and energy (which I don’t have right now) or a rather large sum of money when all was said and done.   At this particular time, this seemed silly for us, if not irresponsible.  So we decided that at age 2, it would be just as special for Zachary to celebrate his birthday with us, at home.
So, that’s just what we did.  Mommy, Daddy, Isabelle and an 8 dollar cake Zachary picked out at Ralphs Supermarket.  He chose the green and blue one and called it “broccoli cake” and shouted “Happy Birthday!” all through the store.  The simplicity of our economical decision, turned out to be perfect in more ways than one.  Not only would this “overly concerned about others’ needs and well being” mother,  have not been able to pay any attention to the birthday boy if hosting a party, either at home or a rented space, but the spontaneity and lack of commotion brought out something special in Zachary.  His energy is joyful and infectious most of the time, I have to say, but witnessing his exuberance over every birthday related discovery was pure magic, in no other terms.  I have been desperately trying to simplify and slow down for months, and for some reason, today of all blessed days, it happened on its own.
Do I believe that Zachary suffered for lack of a birthday extravaganza, filled with lots of friends, party games and presents? I am absolutely certain (and I am certain of very little these days), that he did not.   We’ll save that for birthday number 3.  Perhaps the 100% presence of his Mommy, along with his Daddy, his sister, and a new tee ball set was everything this 2 year old could ask for.  And, the fact that I got to truly experience it with every piece of me is just the icing on the cake.


Heather said...

Bravo, Em!! I find your decision for the intimate party to be perfect. I did a big hooplah for my oldest's first birthday and missed most of it because I was too busy playing the host. It shouldn't be that way. Since that party, I have shifted my attitude about birthday parties. Now, I wholeheartedly believe that the first two, or three (even four) should be low key family close adult friends with kids kind of parties. There will be lots of parties to stress over and lord knows these first few years are difficult enough without getting stressed about the "fun" stuff. Right? Sounds like Zachary had a perfect second birthday!

P.S. I totally understood the "motherfog" even without the explanation. We all go through it, but only some are brave enough to talk about it.

Lauren P said...

Wow. Totally got teary there at the end. With all that's been going on, what an insightful way to decide to celebrate!!! And you--deliberate. Present. Amazing. I'm jealous I didn't have the wisdom to do the same!