Having a hysterectomy is humbling on many levels when you’ve been eating millet for the past 20 years, write about the uterus (childbirth!), and didn’t even take an Advil until five years ago. But life, really, is humbling too. I remember my first visit with our pediatrician before Jacob was born when I told her I was an all-natural mom and I planned to have my kids be all-natural too which meant only drugs as a last resort, no vaccines (at least early ones), and homemade organic baby food. By the time Jacob was six months old and his crib had multiple tooth markings from his sleep tantrums I changed my tune convincing myself he was in pain and drugged him with Tylenol for the next 6 months to induce sleep. So much for getting the World’s Most Earthy-Crunchy Mom award.
Recovering from my surgery has also been a humbling experience. Tim is now Mr. Mom and I’m finding, to my horror, that the boys don’t need me. Yesterday was the first afternoon I felt well enough to greet the kids when they got home from school. I was so excited, like a mom about to see her pre-schooler sing a solo, positive that my presence would make a difference to their after-school experience.
Aden walked in first.
“Hi mom,” he said without grand emotion.
“Hi!!!!” I responded, standing in the kitchen holding two oranges in the air like cheerleader pom pom ready to de-brief about the day.
“Dad, is there any salsa for chips?”
Dad? I was standing right in front of him. Dad was two rooms away playing the game “Tip Over” in the living room ignoring him. Just because I hadn’t been to the supermarket in over a month felt like no excuse for not asking me that question.
Then Jacob’s bus arrived. I ran (read: waddle in pain) to the door to greet him.
Door swings open.
“Hi!” I say still in cheerleader stance.
“Why are you downstairs?” Jacob asks in middle-school-mild-annoyance-speak.
“I wanted to great you.”
He gives me a gentle hug.
“Can you make me a rice cake with peanut butter on it?”
I’ve been thinking alot about my role as mother lately and its importance remembering how I grew up: opening the door to our apartment with my brother after school, mom at work, a stash of Doritos, Hostess Apple Pies and Seven Ups in hand, flipping on “General Hospital” to watch Luke and Laura. Those were the days. I mean it. Those were happy days of not missing mom, but feeling the freedom every middle school kid wants to feel. Mom was only a phone call away (if there was an award for “First Responder” Mom my mom would get it). I knew I was loved and I also felt, at times, that my mom was disposable and that was okay.
With Jacob already in middle school and Aden on the verge, today I’m wondering what it takes to bring that magic into my kids lives, give them that space, and still be present (and Present) for them.
I’ve also been wondering when kids start to understand the seriousness of surgery. My favorite kid quote throughout this entire adventure was the day after I told Jacob in early January that I was going to have major surgery. The following day when he got home from school he casually asked me, “Hey mom, did you have the surgery today?”
Sure, I just popped into CVS, then dashed over to the hospital, had my uterus and left ovary removed and got back in time to greet you off the afternoon school bus. Aren’t moms great?!
“No, I didn’t,” I responded with a smile.