I watch my daughter sleeping, just like all the clichés say you will. I can’t help it – I’m still so enamoured with her that I can’t imagine ever being tired of looking at her. Every time I watch her sleep I marvel over how much bigger she is than she used to be – and every time, she’s grown. I don’t really remember what it was like when she was smaller. It’s hard to believe sometimes that this little girl has ever been any size other than what she is now, and then I look at her again and she’s so much bigger than I expect her to be.
Someone asked me the other day if I feel as though I’ve changed with motherhood. I don’t feel like I’ve changed. I feel a bit like I’ve grown into myself, like I’m somehow more myself than I used to be, and that feels good to me. I’m still who I was, just more focussed, and more complete. Was I incomplete before? I can’t remember, but that’s partly because I can’t imagine life without Lyra in it anymore.
It’s amazing to me how absolutely in love with this little girl I really am. Sometimes when I look at her face I can see the child she’s going to be – like I can see shadows of who she’ll grow into overlaid on her sweet little face. I can see them especially when she’s sleeping, or when she’s figuring things out, all lost in thought and serious.
I think about the issues everyone I know has with their parents, and like everyone else, I’m sure, hope desperately that the issues we will have someday won’t be too painful. I try not to fool myself into thinking they won’t exist… I’m pretty sure even the best mother/daughter relationships have their own quirks and problems. They will exist. I will work to try and keep them to a reasonably sane level. We’ll see how that goes.
Occasionally I get hit with a wave of irrational or semi-rational fear, like when I’m driving somewhere and imagine suddenly a car coming from nowhere and smashing into me, or having to avoid something and driving off the road, or walking across the street at the wrong time even and getting run down (apparently I have an irrational fear of cars.) It’s practically debilitating for a split second while my brain runs through scenarios of me being killed and not being around to take care of Lyra, or see her grow up; and scenarios where I lose her somehow. The thoughts are physically painful to me, for just a moment or two until I get a better grasp on my subconscious and beat it into submission.
Am I a good mother? The perfectionist in me likes to ramble in my head about what I should be doing that I’m not, and what I should be doing better. That part of me compares myself to other moms, and Lyra to other babies. The realist in me knows that I can’t attain perfection, that I often hold myself up to unrealistic standards that I would never impose on any other human being. I’m not a bad mother. I’m willing to admit, on some days, that I might even be a good mother. I’m being myself, and being a mom… and it’s actually a lot of fun.
And no, I am not looking for reassurances from people that I’m doing fine. I know I am – Lyra is happy and healthy and awesome, and that’s the best indicator I’ve got.