Ten years ago today, I became a mother. It doesn't feel like it's been a that long, and yet when I think of the many things we've experienced together it almost feels like it has been much, much longer. Oh, how the time has flown. I have to constantly remind myself that it only gets better, if only to avoid focusing on the fact that we're more than halfway done with her living at home. I'm anxious for her to have a great life, but I'm not quite ready to be in the background of that life.
In the past decade I have learned more fully than I would have guessed that love is something you cannot truly describe. It is more than a feeling, a verb in the truest sense, that pushes us through the moments that desire, comfort, or enjoyment cannot. I've seen my own weaknesses more fully than I care to, and made more mistakes than any one person ought to. It's been hard and brought me to tears on many occasions (like right now) but it's also been the most beautiful, indescribably amazing thing I've ever experienced.
As a child all I wanted was to be a mom. It didn't occur to me that I could be *more* than that because I held my own mother is such high esteem (when I wasn't a normal, obnoxious kid) that I couldn't believe anything else could be as wonderful. She loved being a mom more than she loved anything else on Earth so I just knew that was what I wanted for my own life. Of course I had other dreams, like working at NASA, being an F/A-18 Hornet Pilot for the Navy (thanks to a promotional video my dad had that made it look really glamorous), performing on Broadway, and the longest living ambition - being an advertising account executive. In the back of my mind I was always analyzing my dreams to see if they would allow me to be the kind of mom I wanted to be, which meant that eventually all of them faded to nothing because I couldn't allow myself to pursue something with that level of time commitment.
Then came the day I heard the word "infertility" for the first time. I was crushed beyond description. I was in the middle of bidding farewell to my own mother and was told I may never get to be one myself. The world seemed really bleak and I beat myself up wondering why I hadn't had more grand ambitions so that my life could still hold some meaning if being a mother wasn't able to pan out. It was a rough couple years as I wondered what my future would be and I secretly begged my Heavenly Father to let it all work out. I wanted to trust Him, but I was terrified of relying on my own hopes rather than inspiration and didn't let myself believe it would work out. When I found myself in the doctor's office for my first pre-natal checkup a mere six weeks after being told I would probably never have children, I still held myself back from believing it would be ok. I consciously removed myself emotionally for most of the pregnancy, convinced that something would happen and I would never meet my baby. When I saw her move on the ultrasound, I broke out sobbing in the doctor's office. It was too miraculous for words.
The day she was born was pretty unremarkable. A normal winter day in Phoenix that I had expected to work. She clearly had other plans and after 15 hours in a delivery room she made her appearance. I could not help but stare at her as the doctors cleaned her up because I still could not believe it was real. I was a mother. Me!
Now, ten years later, I still get choked up when I think of it. This journey has been such an emotional one, and I doubt it will ever stop being so. She means the world to me. I am nowhere near the mother she deserves, but I'll keep working to get there. Maybe by the time she's a grandmother I'll have this parenting thing figured out.
In tradition, here are some of my favorite moments from this past year with my Aer-bear.
When she was little, we used to go to concerts for some of my local musician friends. At age 4, she was taught to "rock on" and still gets really excited whenever there is live music. This was a hilarious moment filled with pure joy.
This year she made huge strides in the water. She has been terrified of water for years, which I attribute to her continuous ear infections, but this year got comfortable enough that her favorite part of swimming lessons is diving from the edge. This is a huge improvement.
She was so excited at the school's jog-a-thon this year. I loved watching how she would jump at the balloons on every lap.
This year was the first year I didn't get to participate with the trick-or-treating. Rather, I participated with our neighbors walking around with them and their kids while Aeryn ran around the apartment complex with her friends. It was a little hard to let go of that, but she had so much fun with it that it was worth it.
Over Spring break we took the girls camping. It was cold. For the first day or two there was no squashing the enthusiasm of just being together. I love to see how much she adores Ellie and plays with her.
This past year has been a rough one. She's had some issues with tantrums and finding her place within new family dynamics. Since mood swings are fairly common, this family picture is representative of reality and one of my very favorites. She didn't want to do, well, anything and frankly I think it's really funny.
Who can forget the Rollerblades? My favorite part about this is how she bought them herself for $2.50 at Goodwill and was so excited she wanted to skate around and show all our friends.
This trip is one of the most talked about things we've done. Aeryn has a thing for volcanoes (which I wish the science teacher in me could take credit for) and though it usually takes some bribing to get her up long hikes, she LOVED climbing this cinder cone at Lassen Volcanic National Park.
At the end of 3rd grade her class did book reports on Magic Tree House books. She was assigned Mummies in the Moonlight and had to build a tree house to represent the story. I really struggled to not be a control freak on the building because I found it to be such a fun project. It turned out really cute and she was really proud of it.
This is one of my proudest moments. Aeryn is unfortunately the recipient of my lack of both athletic coordination and any sense of competition. During one of the summer track meets at Hayward Field, she chose to run the 400m. The excitement was tangible and she put her heart and soul into that run only to come in dead last. It broke her heart. She just cried and cried. When it was all said and done, she still chose to go out and run the next event anyway. I'm so proud of her for pushing through and trying even when it is hard. Running is not a natural talent for her, but she still ran her hardest at every week's meet regardless of how she was going to place. I have so much to learn from her.
Bring it on, age 10. If history is any indication, it's bound to only get better.