Eight years ago, a tiny baby boy introduced me to the maternal instinct by arriving into the world and screaming at the top of his lungs day and night. It was a rude introduction to all things maternal and it did not help that most people around me kept giving me advice and criticizing my choices directly or indirectly. Thankfully, my husband and I constitute a great team and, with God’s help, we made it through the first year just fine.
Then, two more years went by, faster than you can say “I think I want to homeschool.” We had a baby girl. She completed us. I became a mother all over again and discovered it is actually possible to love two children just as madly as you loved the first one when he was your only and you thought, “I could not love another child just as much as this one.”
Back to my eldest. So nine months of worrying came to an abrupt end on the Sunday we turned the clocks back one hour, eight years ago. Just like that, I was a mother. Nobody prepared me for the extent of the changes in my life. I read many books about pregnancy, but not that many about motherhood. Honestly, somebody should warn women about the maternal instinct. I had no idea what it was. Hmmm… do I sense the beginning of another book idea?
When I kept holding a screaming baby and walking him up and down the halls, I surprised myself. Then, the realization sank in: this must me what they call maternal instinct. Through potty training, picture book reading, swim lessons, and the terrific two and threes and fours, I got acquainted with my fifth gear – the mommy gear – a.k.a. the maternal instinct. Simply put, the power (the urge, really) to put my needs aside and focus on his needs first.
When guilt overwhelmed me during the hours he spent in a Mother’s Day Out program, while I frantically worked on chores at home or ran errands in town, I stared the maternal instinct down and said, “There is nothing wrong with a little break for mommy. Besides, it’s not like I am watching soap operas or taking a bubble bath while he is in there.”
And yet, this thing would not let go of me. “Get your son back home,” it seemed to whisper in a still, small voice.
Slowly but surely, my eldest got older and approached school age. I started researching school options and what I found was not bad at all. But, again, maternal instinct kicked in and said, “You cannot put him in a building seven hours a day in the name of education. You must homeschool.”
So I did. I am cutting out a lot of details, because I have covered them several times on my blog. I became a mom eight years ago. Maternal instinct has turned me into a homeschooling, albeit writing mom. I never saw it coming. Growing up, I did not even want children. All I wanted was a career as a French and English professor or translator. In a way, of course, I have made that dream come true through homeschooling.
This year, I made cupcakes for his friends in the Adventurer Club (instead of a LEGO cake like last year). We will have a private celebration as a family of four as he wakes up on his birthday. His extended family will also celebrate him later on. My mom sent him a gift all the way from Spain, which will probably arrive next week. Don’t you love these birthday weeks children seem to have these days? We only got a birth-day, not a whole birth-week.
As I sat down, tired from baking and frosting 48 cupcakes, I drank some pumpkin tea and had a cupcake in honor of me, the mother. I had a quiet moment to myself, to reminisce about the last eight years and how my life has changed because I became a mother. Homeschooling was not even an option in my married-without-children mind. But once I knew my son, my first born, for about three years, I could not separate from him for seven hours a day. I drank my tea and ate my cupcake while thinking, “Happy birthday to my son! And happy mom anniversary to me!”