A while back I was lying in bed with Sage and JD. Sage was nuzzled up to me. She had just finished her nightly ritual of requesting all of her dolls and her giant rubber horse (the newest addition to our bed). I had been thinking all day about what it would be like to write a book about being a mom and I brought up the question of what I would name my book. I started out by saying, “So I was thinking” and immediately heard Sage echoing my words, “was thinking,” she said. I responded by slowing down so that we could turn this into a game. “If I…” I continued “If I…” She responded.

“…wrote…”

“…wrote…”

“…a book…”

“…a book…”

“…about what it is like…”

“…it’s like…”

“…being Sage’s mommy…”

“…Sage’s mommy”

“…What would I call it, what would I call my book?”

Suddenly she stopped copying me. Without skipping a beat she blurted out. “Dumb…Dumb, Dumb!” and then as if it had finally come to her, “Dumb Mommy.”

I thought to myself, “If this is the opinion that my nineteen-month-old daughter holds of me, after only a little over a year and a half of parenting her, I can say almost definitively that I am in for it.”

Ironically, the title that she came up with is probably not that far from the one I would have thought of myself. I was thinking that I might go for a title like “humbled”. I was a much more cocky and self-assured parent before having kids. I had no problem judging everyone with a child. If I saw a child over the age of two riding in a stroller I would think to myself, “someone call social services. That is a child whose mother refuses to slow down so that he can walk at his own pace and smell the roses”.

I now know that if left to walk at his own pace that child would likely not make it home for weeks and on his way to smell the roses might manage to eat a bunch of dog shit and choke on an acorn. Now, I am still one to slow down and let my daughter get messy and take her time and yes, eat a bit of nature, but I now get it. I even get kid leashes (something I never thought I’d say). I recently watched a two-year-old squeeze through a tiny crack in a playground fence and run towards oncoming traffic. Kids are after all extremely determined and parents are scared and multitasking and often distracted and occasionally in need of more control than two arms can offer. Hence, the leash.

In the maternity ward they asked everyone to watch a film entitled “Don’t Shake the Baby.” If you didn’t they made you sign a waver saying that you had refused. JD and I joked that if you signed the waiver, if you were one of the “refusers,” the hospital would likely send someone to follow you home, just to make sure that you were not a baby shaker. My husband watched for the both of us. He was horrified, “who are these people? Who the fuck would shake a baby?” Though I am not a baby shaker and would under no circumstances shake the baby,  I have moments where I say to myself, “If I were a baby shaker, this is the moment where I would shake the baby”.

There is nothing more humbling than having those flashes, those moments when you recognize the brute, messiness of being human and being a parent.

There is also something so humbling about the extreme joy and the absolute overflowing almost intolerable love that comes from having a kid. It is almost maddening, and kind of out of control. Like you literally want to squeeze the guts out of your kid for how much you love them. And you feel utterly incapable of ever expressing the bigness of that love. You feel so sad and so helpless for not having a phrase or even a gesture that will ever give them even the slightest inkling of how amazing you think they are. And you really sometimes just want to puke because of it. It is really sickening and massively heart-breaking to not have those words.  My daughter, however has no problem finding them, they are “Dumb, dumb, dumb…dumb Mommy”.

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