Monday, November 5, 2012

Confessions of the Anti-Mom: The First Year Fun

It's been more than a year. 

A year and almost two weeks, to be exact, since I had Jordan.  It's been the most joyous, rewarding and downright fun year of my life.  Fun in more ways than I ever imagined.  This from the girl who ended most work nights with cocktails well after midnight on a road trip.  That was my idea of fun pre-Jordan.  That's what is so shocking.  How much I actually enjoy being with my daughter. 

She goes with us to sporting events, restaurants, Mexico and, yes, to the bar.  She slept through cocktails at Mansion on Turtle Creek at three weeks old and was recently serenaded while Jim and I enjoyed dinner and champagne at Cru.  And you know what, she was fine.  Really.  In fact, she loved the jazz singer.  I shared this with one mother recently and she almost shrieked in horror.  I fully believe Jordan has come into our lives.  Not the other way around.  This has developed into the style that works for us. 

Let me take a step back: I was never a kid or baby person.  Ever.  I never wanted children.  That was never one of my goals.  I joked that the best part about trying to get pregnant was the "trying" part, if you know what I mean.  In fact, one single gal friend who knew all of this approached me at work a few months ago asking me how the motherhood thing was going.  I told her that, low and behold, the anti-kid person can do it while loving the awesome challenges that come with it.  She (in this case me) just moves on to become the anti-mom, the woman who doesn't quite fit into the traditional "cupcakes and kisses" mold and doesn't want to.

Part of my reluctance to have children stemmed from the fact that I never felt that having a family was enjoyable.  My mother never made us feel like she enjoyed being a mom or being a part of our lives.  Her business was her priority which was fine.  It still is.  It's who she is.  She rarely provided that loving, maternal presence.  When I played basketball in high school, she once walked into the gym when I was at the free throw line wearing a purple leather and fur jacket and screamed "Hi Gina!"  She then screeched "HELLO!" when she answered her 80's brick cell phone.  The rest of the gym was quiet while I was shooting missing the second free throw.

My mom did not raise me or my two younger siblings with whom I grew up.  We were raised by a maid, my great grandmother who died when I was about 13 and a revolving door of nannies.  Hundreds of them really.  Nannies from from as far away as Sydney, Australia and as close as Melissa, TX.  Ironically, at the time, Australia felt closer than Melissa. 

I think I'm as selfish as my mother is, if not moreso.  I work a lot and take advantage of a wonderful lady who helps us with Jordan.  I also enjoy bits of my pre-Jordan life sans the midnight cocktails.  Now it's more like 6pm power walks, a mani/pedi or a stroll to our favorite restaurant with Jordan in tow in the early evening.  The main difference is that I want Jordan to know how much I truly love and appreciate that she is a part of our lives. 

Love and affection is great but I'm fully convinced selfishness can work and help me be a better mom.  I see many mothers who don't take the time to exercise, eat well, get a massage or do whatever it is that lets them just relax, breathe and enjoy the moment.  They seem so wrapped up in the concept of perfect, uber-motherhood and focus all of their time on their kids.

You hear about the "Working Mom Guilt".  I never ONCE felt guilty about going to work and being gone 12 hours or five days at a time from Jordan and the family.  I miss them terribly, yes.  But guilty?  Heck no.  Having the commitment of working daily has made me a better mother and cherish the precious time I have with her all that much more.  In fact, working is a joy.  It's a reminder of the contributions that I am providing to the family. 

When I was on maternity leave, I was miserable because I was home many days, mired in laundry, poopie diapers and the breast pump that sounded like a pig stuck in a muddy trough.  I affectionately called this breast arrest (more on that later).  It was hell.  When I had the chance to go back to work, I almost danced.  I'm lucky that, on most days, I have a fun job but the lesson here is balance.  Even if I didn't do what I did professionally, I would focus on other things: writing, real estate, and other areas of personal enrichment. 

I've seen the moms who go stir crazy focusing on their little ones all day.  I couldn't stop laughing after chatting with a mom at my Mother's Day Out program who was stressing over the food she provided for the Halloween party.  It almost gave her an ulcer.  This was the mom who also had to demonstrate her kid could sign that it was hungry.  Needless to say, we don't have much in common.  On the other hand, I have friends who are stay at home moms who have created their own successful businesses because they almost lost their identities focusing on the kids all day.  They needed that balance and stimulation in other areas of their lives. 

More and more, though, the mothers I meet need additional passions.  Channeling all their efforts on their children is not enough and can be identity sucking.  Yet when they take the time to focus on themselves for a bit, it makes their time with their kids exponentially better.  I truly believe it's more important to focus on yourself as a person first and foremost.  This concept is nothing new but it seems to be forgotten and I hope it's the one that guides me through the roller coaster that is parenthood. 

I'm only one year into this journey.  Most people have forgotten more about parenting than I will ever know.  But as I learn more about Jordan's' education, dietary needs and poop patterns, I am truly shocked at how enjoyable all of this is.  It's overwhelmingly enhanced my life, not subtracted from it.  Me, the selfish party girl who never wanted kids now loves the experience. 

I just had to share.