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Challenge: Life Changes

Embracing the Mom I Want to Be

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I have two toddling, bumbling babies. One boy and one girl. My daughter came in 2014 and my son arrived a short but sweet two years later. Almost every day, my daughter rushes into my room and exclaims, “Mom! We’re the three musketeers! And later, when papa gets home, we will be the four musketeers!” We’re a team, the kids and I, and we do almost everything together throughout the day, from morning story time to afternoon cookie baking and every memory and meltdown in between.

If you would have told me only five short years ago that I’d be a mother to not one, but two, babies, I would have laughed that nervous and quiet laugh that I do when I’m anxious. You see, I’ve always wanted a large family. My mama is one of five and I grew up around a bevy of cousins, aunts, and uncles. As a newlywed, I dreamed of filling our cottage by the road with way too many mouths to feed. I had a vision of being a housewife with a messy bun, overwhelmed but really grateful for all the chaos. I’d cook supper every evening and prepare school lunches late at night when everyone was sleeping, much in the way my own mother did.

Then, the first part of that dream began to come true. We found out we were expecting at 2 a.m. after a red eye flight back home from a Pacific Northwest vacation. We’d visited Seattle, Canada, and Oregon and even made the trek to Forks, Washington to see where the “Twilight” films were based. It was the trip of a lifetime, and I’m so glad my husband and I got to do it. We had no idea that week that it would be the last time it was just us on vacation for quite a while. I’d felt funny the last leg of the trip, and tested as soon as I got home. Sure enough, there were two double lines, plain as day. Overwhelmed, excited and unconvinced, we ran to the drugstore that very minute and bought five more tests. The cashier just laughed and said, “What are you wishing for?”

We said we didn’t care, and we truly didn’t. I never grew up with notions of being a girl mom or a boy mom. In my daydreams, I didn’t see any particular genders, just a kitchen table full of tiny bedheads and grubby hands reaching for the peanut butter. So, we decided to wait and find out what were having when he or she decided to make the grand arrival. It happened on a Wednesday morning, and when my doctor looked up and said “It’s a girl,” I’ve never seen my husband so emotional. We were so sure she’d be a boy that we had a necklace engraved with our reserved boy initials. We didn’t even create a girl one – that’s how convinced we were. But, nope. There our little Junebug was, all seven pounds of her, with a head full of deep brown hair and gorgeous little blue eyes.

That was all it took to spur my heart toward action. I’d purposefully left her nursery pretty sparse, anticipating that once we found out what I was carrying, we’d decorate it to the hilt. After we brought her home, my first journey out of the house a few weeks later was to a local department store. I’d been browsing girl nursery ideas since she’d arrived, and I came home with my arms full of pink. I sat her in the rocker and my husband and I transformed her bare, white room into a glorious space fit for a princess. Suddenly, though I’d never thought about being a girl mom, I found myself braiding her wispy baby hair, sewing lace collars onto her dresses, and creating makeshift headbands from my old tank top straps. I was all in, and so was she, and we made quite the feminine pair.

Then, I became pregnant again, and we chose to be surprised with the gender this time around too. Of course, everyone told me to find out. We could save money, time, and sanity if we knew in advance we’d be reusing all of our girl gear. But still, we persisted and somehow found the patience to wait.

Our beautiful baby boy was born nine short months later. Exhausted from almost 12 hours of labor, I could hardly hear when the nurse said, “Your boy is here.” She laid him on my chest and I became a boy mom in that instant. When my daughter came to visit us in the hospital the next day, she burrowed her face next to his, and then snuggled up to me. “Mama!” she exclaimed, “You have two babies!”

It was true, and I was to-the-bone excited and thankful. I also went through a slight identity crisis right at the very beginning. Was I a girl mom, focused on bows and Barbies? Or, was I a boy mom, buying GI-Joes and khakis? The answer was “both” and I didn’t know how to be. I didn’t know in the beginning how to fill both of those roles perfectly, how to give both of my very different children the attention, love, and care that they needed from their mama.

The truth is, I still don’t have all the answers. I’m still figuring these two miracles out and I probably will be for the rest of my life. But over time, I’ve realized that’s the glory and the privilege of it. I’m learning who they are, and discovering a ton about myself in the process. I’m cultivating their interests and finding new hobbies and tackling every day as a new adventure just waiting to be unfolded. I’m not a girl mom, and I’m not a boy mom. I’m just “mom,” and I’m leaning into that role with excitement and anticipation as this boy and girl in front of me reach up for my hand.

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