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  • rebeccaforster

AN ACCIDENTAL MOTHER

Updated: May 11




It’s Mother’s Day. At our house we celebrate with a trip to a food court and a scary movie. When my boys were small this was the ‘gift’ they thought would please me, and so it remains.

 

I confess that I was ill prepared to be a mother. To be it mildly, I am a distractable sort. My mind wanders. I love tangents more than straight lines. A shiny thing will draw me faster than an Etch A Sketch. I am often happily oblivious to life’s cues that indicate when it is time to stop and either smell the roses or put out a brush fire. Conversely, I can be incredibly focused to the point of ridiculousness. Steve often says he’s never sure who he’s coming home to. This leads me to the story of my journey to motherhood, a journey that might seem accidental, but was simply another example of stumbling forward through life.

 

In my thirties I was a business executive, had earned an MBA, traveled extensively, and been married eight years. My parents—especially my OB/GYN doctor dad—had given up on ever having grandchildren. Frankly, the subject just never came up. We were busy and happy. Then we realized something was amiss. It wasn’t the weight gain or the sleepiness that tipped us off, it was the laughter.

 

My hormones were way out of whack because, suddenly, everything was hilarious. I got fired. My boss was heard to say, “I will never hire a woman of child bearing age again”. I laughed even though I should have sued.

 

I grew into a human beach ball. When I was two weeks overdue my parents appeared on our doorstep bearing the crib that had housed at least four of my siblings. They weren’t sure, but they thought I might be needing it soon. My dad put it together, my mother brought a cute little sheet for the mattress. This was their way of trying not to scream: WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU? YOU’RE GOING TO HAVE A BABY! GET READY!

 

Steve was also antsy. He did not recognize this languid, uber-happy woman who took up more than half the bed, and grew out of her maternity clothes. It was time for action. He would induce labor. His chosen strategy was a giant, spicy burrito and a walk. I devoured the burrito in record time and waddled around the block three times before crying uncle.

 

That night I didn’t feel well. By three a.m. I was pacing the living room with the dog beside me. His name was Ricky, and he was sympathetic to my plight.

 

“Heartburn,” I suggested. His eyebrows undulated.

 

 “A pulled muscle?” I speculated. Again with the eyebrows.

 

“Damn burrito.” He tilted his head.

 

Finally, I pulled myself up the stairs. Ricky bounded up before me. Steve was sleeping like, well, a baby. I woke him.

 

“I don’t feel well,” I said.

 

He raised his head and asked: “Have you timed the pain?”


Now that he mentioned it, the pains were strangely rhythmic. I laughed. He rolled his eyes.

 

“Wake me when you get to five minutes.”

 

 His head fell back on the pillow, obviously exhausted by our strenuous trip around the block.*** At the five-minute mark Ricky and I woke Steve again, and off we went to the hospital.  You’d think reality would have kicked in but, alas, I was distracted by the hustle of the hospital, paperwork, moaning, more paperwork, a wheelchair, a room, and a horrid little gown.

 

Having never taken a Lamaze classes, I guess I was breathing wrong because throughout the process the process taking in oxygen at varying intervals did nothing to alleviate the pain. The nurses smiled a lot. I did not. The laughing hormone was waning until it completely shattered in the labor room. Some idiot had pasted a yellow happy face sticker on the ceiling. That wasn’t funny.

 

Steve, who had been a trooper since coming fully awake, held my hand for the first 8 hours I was in labor. Then he made a mistake. He leaned over me and said:

 

“I’m going to go have a cigarette and sit down. My feet hurt.”

 

Suddenly, the distracted me was replaced with the focused me.  I grabbed hold of his shirt collar and pulled him close. I believe I twisted it a little tight because his eyes bulged.

 

“You’re what hurts?” I said.

 

I believe I may have growled. Perhaps my head did a 360. I’m almost certain my eyes flashed demonic green. He never had that cigarette, nor did he sit down.

 

Twelve hours after I went into labor, I had a C-section and delivered my first baby, all 9 pounds 3 ounces of him. We named him Alex.  In that moment, with Steve by my side, as the doctor showed us what we had created, I became a mother. Two years later, I became a mother again. Donuts were the preferred craving; Steve did not complain that his feet hurt. Eric was 9 pounds 1 ounce. We had the hang of it.

 

Now my boys are nearing forty. I love them more than the day they were born. They have conferred upon me a title I cherish and that they have honored. As they grew, I understood how blessed I was to have been given the children I needed. They follow me on my tangents and take me with them on their own. They walk with me in circles, focus when they have to, and have my back no matter what. They are creative, brave, kind, respectful, smart, and funny. They still like me after all these years when they probably have a thousand reasons not to. I may not have longed for them in the traditional way, I may not have dreamed of them all my life, but from the minute they arrived, I was consumed a fierce motherly love. When they were mine to love and protect I like to believe I stepped up to the plate; bless them for never telling me when I struck out.

 

Happy Mother’s Day, no matter what path you walked to get there.


**As the late queen noted, recollections may vary. Rest assured Steve was a prince for 9 long months and two weeks.

           

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