Almost three years into my parenting journey with a second child on the way, I still can’t believe that someone calls me mommy.
I knew I always wanted kids, but I never imagined being THE emergency contact, THE person who holds the insurance card, THE female role model for my daughter. I always thought that my own mommy would be around for this journey, that she would give me the answers, that she and my husband would together be my emergency contacts.
But, such is life; I lost my mom to cancer within the same year I had my daughter. The fact that someone calls me the very name that was etched into my heart from someone else so special is a turnabout of words that I’m just beginning to fully comprehend.
I wrote someone calls me mommy to share my story with you. I want to hear yours, too. I hope my writing can serve as a conversation between you and me, as new mommies, as old children, as women who have it all figured out, as humans who may not have a clue at all, but ultimately, as individuals who want to connect to one another, capture life’s precious moments and create a fulfilling existence. It’s nice to meet you.
“I don’t want to take a nappie, my rainboots are happy.”
Last January, after a long morning of puddle-jumping, I told my daughter it was time to take a nap. She quickly replied, “I don’t want to take a nappie, my rainboots are happy.” Her simple words and innocent delivery transported me to the magical place parents visit every day and unexpectedly connected me to the memory of my own mommy.
Just one year before this defining moment, my beloved mom passed away. The experience of gaining a child while mourning a parent is a pain too difficult to articulate, and the path to healing was impossible to foresee. But in that rainboot interaction, my daughter’s uncanny resemblance to my mother brought her back to me.
Their shared humor and wisdom, similar speech and mannerisms coalesced for me that day and prompted my own cathartic, artistic journey. It felt as if a portal was opened, allowing me to tap into my child’s emerging voice, while spending much-needed time with my mom’s memory. That night, I began writing poetry about the early days of parenthood/childhood from both my and my daughter's perspective.
Through this co-writing journey, I found solace, humor and hope. And someone calls me mommy, an anthology book of 100 poems and illustrations, was born. And with it, a renewed sense of purpose in my own parenting journey.
Isn’t it amazing the way the simplest moments with our children - often in the very times we’re at our wit’s end - can yield unbridled joy and unlock something within us? After that incredibly muddy and silly morning, I found my brain flooded with memories of my first two years of parenthood and, up until that point, I had struggled to commemorate those memories in a productive, long-lasting way.
Luckily, a path presented itself. I started journaling before I fell asleep. Most of the time it felt hard enough just to lift my head, yet alone the pen, but I powered through, I just had to, even if just to write a quick sentence or two. But there’s a superpower we all inhabit as parents. “How can I go a day without sleep?” Then you go weeks. “How can I keep my child safe from harm?” And you watch them grow. “How can I handle another baby?” And yet you do.
The modern journey of motherhood is often epitomized by our need to juggle, to multitask. It can be exhausting and, often, it feels borderline unfair. However, my daughter always shows me the way. If I keep myself open enough to her wisdom and her kindness I find myself filled with a new energy. Not more energy - as that’s in low supply - but there’s a novelty to each of her responses that provides an entire new universe of experience in my heart. And that, in turn, enables me to go back to the well for more fuel.
someone calls me mommy is my book’s title, because of the sheer audacity of that very fact: someone actually calls me mommy! How can I be ready for, and honored with, such a title? Like all mommies in some shape or form, I am figuring out how I can live up to the name.
Here are three themes that help me organize my thoughts and turn them into creative outlets:
All of us have the privilege of connecting to our children in some way, shape or form. It all starts with being present. Be present in the best way available to you, whether that is at breakfast, during storytime, while getting dressed, or unstructured time. Don’t worry about capturing a moment, get rid of that pressure or need to qualify your precious moments. Ultimately, If you’re not present you’ll never truly experience the optimal moment.
Scrap the idea of capturing moments of motherhood through photos, posting and scrapbooking, and settle for reflecting fully and vulnerably while walking into the sometimes scary yet beautiful mirror of motherhood. We’ve become conditioned to equate capturing a moment with having a like on social media, when at its core having the gift of a full moment imprinted in your brain can power you for a lifetime. Once you accept that, then capture the aftermath in a way that feels best and honors your child’s independence as well.
What’s great about creativity is that there are no rules. Do whatever you want! I felt inspired to connect to my own motherhood journey through poetry, whereas you may want to collect rocks, organize a photo album, or paint a picture. I think the key is to do what feels good and natural to you. I could never find the time or interest in scrapbooking, but I seem to have 36 hours in a day when I write poetry. What creative outlet gives you more time in your day, not less?