I’m always asked, “Were you scared when you found out you were going to have a baby?”
I wasn’t scared when I was 18 and saw the two little pink lines on my pregnancy test. I wasn’t scared when my skin started to stretch so much you could see the marks where it had broken. I wasn’t scared when my contractions became so bad that I knew the only way to end the pain was to get a needle in my spine or wait until I had given birth to a baby. I wasn’t scared when I went home and realized my baby wasn’t going to sleep anywhere but my arms and that meant I was not going to get any sleep myself. I wasn’t scared when my baby learned to roll over, to crawl, or to walk. I wasn’t even scared when I found out that I was going to have to do all of those moments over again with his brother.
But yesterday I watched as my almost two year old, who still can’t say full sentences, put mommy’s bathing suit top on himself. He almost put it on perfectly. I realized that it’s official. He is always watching me, wanting to be like me, and trying to learn from the things I do. Whether or not he is old enough to remember everything that is happening in life, he is still absorbing it. That scared me.
Babies are a lot of responsibility, especially when never before have you had to do the things that you do now. Staying up all night, breastfeeding or making bottles, changing diapers, cleaning up messes, laundry for another person, not being able to go anywhere unless you have a sitter. But all through the upbringing of a baby, your baby won’t remember a thing. They may have opinions about you not holding them when they want you to, but they won’t remember a thing.
When you decide that you have had enough and you breakdown, you cry, scream, throw things, or act out emotionally, they won’t remember it. They will just look at your mascara covered, chapped face, with swollen eyes and just smile. Because they love you, but also because no matter what you still have the milk. When you have your emotional meltdown in front of your grown child they will look at you and ask “why? what is going on with my mom? Why is she acting this way? Is it something that I did? Is this the way I am supposed to act?”
Before, the only job I had was to keep my child alive. I needed to feed the baby, change the baby, make sure the baby had somewhere warm and cozy to sleep. But now, I am a constant role model for a younger set of eyes. A set of eyes, a soul, and a heart that looks up to me, because I am the center of their world. When I make breakfast, they are watching. When I do the dishes (or don’t do them and let them pile up for days) they are watching. When I interact with my husband, my sister, my mom, and my friends, they are watching. When I talk about others or the way I feel about myself, they are listening. Every move I make is impertinent for the rest of this game I call parenthood.
So, no. Having a baby never scared me. Raising a child, terrifies me.
But with that fear, I have to realize the power that I hold. I am a role model for another human being, two human beings, actually. In all of my selfish and unimportant life, motherhood has given me the ultimate power to change the world. Two people with open hearts and minds who ready to learn from their center. Everything I do and everything I am, will make up my children as human beings. If you think about it, it’s been that way since the beginning of their existence.
They will learn cleanliness habits by watching the way I take care of the house, myself, and the way instruct them to do so. They will learn how to treat others by the way I treat them, our closest loved ones around us, and the people that we aren’t exactly fond of. They will learn how to love by the way I go about my marriage and other relationships. They will learn to care about their bodies by watching their mom take care of hers. They will learn to work for what they want by watching their mom never stop pursuing her dreams and putting effort into anything that she desired.
But they will also learn to bite and pick at their nails because that’s what their mom does when she is nervous. They will also learn to yell f*!k when they stub their toe, because that’s what their mom does when she accidentally hurts herself. They will even learn to NEVER put a new roll of toilet paper in the bathroom after they run out, because their mom could never remember either.
I will never be perfect. But, I will try my best to be the role model they need. To use every moment of my own existence to influence my children to be good people. I’m scared as hell of raising my kids, but only because I realize what a responsibility it is. When my children are finally ready to up and leave the nest, I will be sending out two people to be part of this world. To add to the love, to the respect, to add to the beauty, the education, the discoveries, and the art that people bring to this world. To help stop the hate, stop the evil, and the sadness that so often plague the world. What a gift to be able to do that.