Thursday, July 9, 2009

A Perfect Mess, A Glorious Hurt

What a melodramatic title for a blog post. Such are the peaks and valleys of my emotional life now.

Ava Bear. What do you need? Who will you be? Who are you now? 

Here are a few of the things I know about her. She loves her animals. She is breathtakingly sharp and alert, always absorbing and putting bits of information together and locking it all away. She gets easily bored. She's funny. She's fussy. She loves the water. She loves biscuits and peas and cheese and mangoes. She loves clapping and high-fiving and riding around in the grocery cart. She does not like baby gates or Mommy's laptop.

She eats.

She sleeps. (Putting her to sleep is hard though. Sometimes she wails and wails and what feel like essential pieces of me shrivel as tears shoot at the same time out of both of her big eyes. Papa Dog has taken to wearing his industrial-strength sound engineer headphones when he rocks and coos and eventually soothes her resistant little self to sleep.)

She poops (especially during family photos).

She splashes.

She walks. (Like a tiny drunken zombie at the end of a bender.)

She grows. On Monday she celebrated her first birthday with her first cupcake.

Ava's Mother. What do I need? Who will I be? Who am I now?

I am tired. I am suddenly aware of my limited reserves of patience and energy and imagination. I like to think of these as muscles that are being worked for the first time by a merciless trainer—who not only yells, but spits and vomits and craps on me. I'm working on my strength and endurance. I am sometimes struck with moments of great loneliness. I think I am lonely for the life I used to have that allowed for some alone time. I really miss Ethiopia, and the emotional intensity of that week. I am shaky from being hit again and again with overwhelming waves of tenderness and concern for the little person who now sleeps down the hall. I am still mystified by the realization that I have a daughter. I haven't seemed to regain my balance since we've met. 

It was two weeks and five days after we returned home when I was struck—again with the force of a rogue wave—with the sudden realization that I loved this little girl. 

I'm not yet the mother I'd like to be—but I have to think I'll get there one day.


Evelyn said...

Thanks for this wonderful and honest post! Something to think about as I wait and wait :)

filoli said...

I am sitting here wondering...could there have been a more perfect title than "A Perfect Mess, A Glorious Hurt." Answer - no; obviously I am not a mother and that always puts me out on the fringe and discounted a bit - but I will share with you a little secret, my desire to be a mother was not because of my relationship with my mom (that relationship was...shall we say interesting and different and not the kind where you say "when I grow up I want to be a mommy.") But, the person who taught me the most about motherhood and who inspired me was my dear friend from junior high and high school. She placed her first child for adoption but kept her second...she was 16 when she had her 2nd child and watching her I saw hope, love, honesty, practicality, strength and wisdom - soulful wisdom that things were right with the world because of this bond and relationship of mother and child. Oh, Mama Dog, this is the second time I have seen that - you are the second mother that has shown me this. So, thank you for being who you are in the world and to your family, to your Ava Bear. You may not be the mother you yet inspire to be - but you are an inspiring mother nonetheless.

Julie said...

Always waaaaay too difficult to follow Filoli, "What she said."

rebekah said...

Gosh this bring me back. A year ago we were in the same shoes. The nighttime wailing, oh the nighttime wailing - the earplugs which made me a better mom instantly. The bodily fluids that felt like an insult, somehow. I was at my wits end and began to contemplate how to downsize my job, our house, our lives, to accommodate this new ferocious being in our lives.

We adjusted. We somehow found the balance.

It took me two years to fall into my new self after my first child was born. It took me 10 months with this now much less ferocious second son.

Christine said...

Beautifully put, Mama. You really brought me back, too. I remember in the first five months of parenting, it felt like a meditation, I mean, in the hard way, you know focus, focus, focus. My whole everything was off kilter, but it clicked after a while. I was never the same person again, though. As they say, it is to have your heart go walking around outside of you, this being a mother thing. I was totally re-made. Ava is so beautiful and your words so honest.


Little Ethiopia(n) said...

as beautifully written as Ava herself. Well said.

filoli said...

[ahem]requesting your presence at

please put the center of universe down and come play - at least for a bit...Ava, the laptop is important, if not to mommy, to all of us ;)

mama becca said...

it sounds like you have a perfectly formed female child on your hands :).
be gentle with yourself... be patient... those muscles will develop, but i remember with my Leah (she's our first) that i didn't feel like i hit my stride for many months upon becoming a mother... lots of highs and lows, but all tremendously worth it. and then i had all sorts of adjustments to make upon having the second child join us... then the third... it's a journey, for sure. no need to fit into anyone else's mold... just find your own way and what works for your sweet family.
you all are perfectly beautiful together :).

Bridget said...

I think it's an amazing thing when the comments are as strong as the post itself. Says a lot about the post. Very honest and real. The kind of mother that you (obviously) are -honest and real- are few and far between. I think you ARE the mother you aspire to be. Go ahead and give yourself a pat on the back. Being a mom is sooooooooooooo messy. It hurts. It's perfect. It's glorious. Just as your title says. So see? I think you know more than you're giving yourself credit for. :)

K-Tuds said...

ugh your posts make me sit in complete awe! I always feel like the outsider in the ET adoption blog-o-sphere but having met you and met sweet Ava I feel connected and inspired by your story. Keep sharing we are all ears!

Ava is incredible!

Anonymous said...

Ahhhhhh, but you are much farther on your way than you even recognize... I promise, I see it! She's beautiful, by the way!

msl said...

Being a mom is always such a work in progress - it flows, it changes shape, it surprises you, it takes your breath away and yep it brings you to your knees. You'll get it. Promise!

Ava, Happy 1st Birthday Beautiful girl!

Christine said...

I have to say, your experience mirrors my own first time as a parent coming from a different angle; those heady weeks that followed the intensity of a labored, emotional 3-day birth. I remember for long afterwards I would choke back tears just when answering the question posed by strangers, "what is her name?" It was somehow that her name was the gateway to a new world, a word that each time I uttered it, recalibrated the fact that we were responsible for this single, helpless little avalanche of humanity. The responsibility of it - the moment itself, and the future prospects of more - was breathtaking.

It gets easier. It takes a while. And there is absolutely something essential from this part of the voyage that is worth holding onto too. Not that I could explain it, exactly. If I tried I'm sure I would burst into tears.

And's amazing. She's amazing. I'm so happy for the three of you.

much love from the old 'hood...we're taking the kids in a couple hours to meet Dulcy and the girls to hear They Might Be Giants in the park. xo.

Lisa and Peter said...

Mama Dog: Your feelings are all natural -- motherhood is a huge adjustment. Ava is gorgeous and you are a lovely family -- (and this message isn't at all biased by the fact that we now know that you're a Mets fan!)


kn said...

your writing is so beautiful and so honest. thanks. it's a good reminder to me. I wrote a post back in april called success that was about my own transition to mommydom. it's a process.

the bodily fluids still get to me and my son is 6

the love gets even bigger
we grow to the size of it
it's lovely and hard and painful at times - the heart stretching beyond it's reach

she is so beautiful! and you too - and your husband

coffeemom said...

Ah. You are already the mother you dream to be....just growing and stretching. I'd love to say it all gels and focuses and you have the answers...but it doesn't. It's ALWAYS messy. That's part of it, if it isn't a little messy, it's a faux job in a way. LIFE is messy. Life is imperfect. As is being a mom. And oh, nowadays, after so long and especially in this surreal intense time of my mom life, I am hanging on to that concept tight, holding it for all that I am....because even now, after all these years, I feel the same stretching wondering doubting amazing ebbs and tides. So. Welcome here Mom. You are a beautiful mom and have a beautiful daughter.

alleycat said...

I like the line about your limited reserve of patience and the merciless trainer. Just brilliant how you are able to turn emotions into words.
Hit the nail on the head with that one.

Welcome home. Hope your beautiful family is enjoying one another.

April said...

I love this post!