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Notes on My First Mother’s Day as a Mother

On Sunday morning I got an e-mail telling me not to go near the dishes and instead give myself a pat on the back. “This is your special day,” read the note from one of the many parent sites to which I now subscribe. The reason for the kudos was Mother’s Day. And, well, I’m a mother.

My daughter Mika was born in October and my husband and I have spent the past seven months getting accustomed to our new roles. Mom! Dad! We now spend a lot more weekends at home and I puree more organic vegetables than I ever have.

When I woke up this morning at 9 a.m. — it’s Mothers Day, I got to sleep in — I found a card tucked into my daughter’s pajamas. My husband confessed that he had physically written it, but Mika had told him what to say. I read the card and cried because up there with pureeing, that’s what I do these days. Motherhood has turned me into a total softy.

We spent the rest of the day cleaning, doing errands, and going to open houses at apartments that we can’t afford to buy. Throughout the day I got nice texts and phone calls from friends wishing me a happy Mothers Day. The woman in front of me at the grocery store insisted that I go first. “It’s Mother’s Day,” she said with a smile. It was like my birthday, only better.

Until now, I’ve spent almost every other Mothers Day scrambling to get something nice for my mom and falling short. It’s more like, “Here are the flowers from the Korean grocer on the corner!” or “I got you this book on Amazon because they have fast shipping.” Anyway, this year my mother is on vacation and can’t be reached. I tried my grandmother, but she was out, too.

And then a few hours ago, my husband left for Canada. He had a trip for work and I hadn’t given it much thought. But then after I gave Mika a bath and dressed her for bed, we were sitting on the bed reading books and I suddenly felt totally overwhelmed. I realized that I have never spent a night alone with my daughter.

I looked down at her little face and thought, “Holy crap! I’m your mom.” Mind you, I often have that thought, but somehow that it was intensified after a day of public recognition. And couple that with a sense of panic that set in when I realized that if something went wrong, I’m the mom. Until now, every time my husband has been away, I’ve had my mother-in-law or my own mom around. In other words, there’s been a mom with more seniority and experience.

Now, Mika is asleep in the next room. The panic has subsided. And occasionally I’ll have moments of forgetting that she’s there. For a second I’m that person I was a year ago, that is to say, not a mom. And then I look up and see one of her obnoxiously colored toys and remember all over again. Holy crap!


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