Saturday, December 20, 2008

The minutiae of motherhood

minutia:(n) precise details; small (and trifling) matters; normally used in the plural "minutiae"

Recently, I had two nieces become first-time mothers. That, and an experience I had the other night prompted me to write this blog all about those little details, small, and often trifling matters of being a mother that no one bothers to tell you.

About 2:00 a.m., my three year old (who broke her crib and now can get in and out all night long) climbed into bed with me. She tussled around for a few minutes, trying to find a suitable position to sleep. She finally settled on one that was quite uncomfortable for me. As I held my awkward position steady, I eventually heard her breathing slow and listened to her fall back asleep. Afraid to wake her, I stayed in that position, thinking about all those funny things we mothers do simply because we are mothers. So, the first one is this: I guarantee you will hold your baby in an awkward (for you) position sitting in a chair, or lying in bed, and keep it that way, foregoing precious sleep, just so your little one will stay that way. All mothers have done this -- many times! Often it is an elbow in the ear, feet in the face, a kick in the gut, etc. But, you will just deal with it, because you are a mother.

* As your child grows and gains head control, you will often get 'head-butted'. Think of it as a sign of love. This head-butting doesn't go away -- my older kids are still guilty of this -- but it is never done on purpose, so bite your tongue and give them a hug. (see, it never seems to hurt them).

* You will learn to like goldfish crackers. I promise -- you will. (Even if you don't actually like them, you will find yourselves eating them).

* Even though you have a perfect way of loading the dishwasher, the first time your child 'loads' it, you will resist the strong temptation to redo everything and let it run, haphazardly semi-full, just because you are a mother and your child is learning to work.

*You will hear the same piano songs over and over and over again as your child practices them. They might give you a headache, but you will just deal with it, because you are a mother. The same goes for little books. You will read them so many times (the ones your child chooses as favorites -- which are hardly ever your favorite ones to read) -- that you will have them memorized!

*You will color more as a young mother than you probably colored as a child. Seriously. Only now, (hopefully), you can stay in the lines! But, be prepared for long bouts of coloring, coloring, coloring.

* At least once, you will probably embarrass yourself by accidentally cutting up your friend's food before giving it to her. This is out of habit. Don't be too hard on yourself! You will be so used to cutting up everything -- sandwiches, apples, bananas, etc, that when your girlfriend is over for lunch, you'll cut her sandwich in fourths. We've all done it.

*Several times, you will be sleeping peacefully when you will sense that someone is near -- very near. You might hear a gentle, "mom", or maybe you'll just open your eyes, and BAM! your child will be millimeters away from your face. It will scare you the first time -- and probably several times after that. Try not to attack the child.

*You might start to look forward to taking a shower or even going to the bathroom -- for the few minutes/seconds of downtime. But, be aware, your kids do not share that opinion. Mom is fair game, even when she is 'disposed', or in the shower. You probably won't lock the door when your kids are little because you want them to be able to access you at all times, but beware, as they get older, you might want to actually lock the doors!

*Many days, your lunch will consist of nothing other than the leftovers from your kids' meals -- the crusts of PB&J sandwiches, the apple peels, etc. So, when you are cranky at 3:30 p.m., and your husband and dinner are still hours away from appearing, you might just be hungry -- eat something!

*You will learn the lyrics to several Disney, teeny-bopper songs that you really don't like. In fact, you will probably listen to them over and over and over again to the point that you hate them, but find yourself singing them to yourselves or hear them in your head as you try to fall asleep. This reminds me of a time when I was a teenager and I 'caught' my mom singing a Belinda Carlisle song (circle in the sand, round and round...) while she was cleaning the counter in the kitchen. I barged in and said, "Ha! I knew you liked our music! See, you're singing it!". For years I thought it was so funny that after all the grief we'd gotten over our 'music', she liked it after all. Now I know better. Now I realize we had played that song so much on our tape player that she had no choice -- it was ingrained into her psyche, and came out absentmindedly and without control on her part. Sorry mom!

Well, that is all for now, because, eventually I did move my daughter and went back to sleep. But, I'd love to hear your comments, moms -- what other minutiae of motherhood do we deal with and need to pass on to the next generation?


Marilyn said...

There are so many things that come to, don't even start to count how many times a day you are asked "why?" or the number of times you have to pick up the legos or how many little dirty socks are laying around the house at any given moment. When I was a young mother I heard an older mother talk about how she enjoyed each stage of motherhood. She didn't allow herself to say things like, "once we're past the terrible twos things will be easier (or better)" or "if I can just make it through these teenage years then it will be ok." I took her example to heart and I can honestly say that I have thoroughly enjoyed my children at each and every stage, from infant to adulthood. But I must confess, as precious as the memories of young motherhood are to me, I do enjoy being able to sleep through the night uninterupted.

VikiViki said...

Loved the post. It made me LOL to remember that song and mom singing it. Those were some fun times. One item that I would have to add is the fact that you will often be doing laundry only to find multiple items clean, unworn, and even folded still, mixed in with the disgusting and dirty clothes. I can't tell you how many times I have washed some clothes between them actually being worn!

ducklips said...

I love this post. I have had many a cramp from sleeping in odd position. I do have to say that I am not good enough to put up with the bad music though. I have just taught my kids to like my music.
I will say, however, that it is 1:20am and I am up because my daughter is in the tub because she had growing pains and that was the only way to calm her down.

BoĊĦtjan, Bojana, Zala in Kaja said...

One thing I would add is that sometimes in the evening you're so tired you fall asleep while you're sitting by your child's bed. I usually sit on a very comfortable sofa by my daughter's bed - too comfortable, I guess - and it has happened to me quite a few times I fell asleep before she did.

Orange Peanut said...

Jennie, I love this post! Something I would add to the list the random dance parties you will have! We love to turn on different types of music and dance, dance, dance!

I personally have struggled with my calling as a mother. I never anticipated the constant reminders of my inadequacies, the mother guilt, and my tendancy to lose my temper (a lot). I am just now starting to cut myself some slack and really enjoy where my boys are at and try not to let the little things irritate me, but rather try to think of the minutiae of motherhood as a priviledge and a joy.

Thank you Marilyn for sharing your perspective as I will try my best to adopt this as my own.

Jennie, thank you for the gentle reminder that this really is the most amazing calling we will have!

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