The Reality of Motherhood—by Jamie Levine
Before I gave birth to Jayda, I had a lot of ideas about what kind of mother I would be. Specifically, I knew I’d nurse my child—but likely just for six months, though hopefully for a year. My daughter would sleep in the lovely crib I had purchased for her, and I’d never yell at her or lose my patience. When she was finally able to eat solid foods, she’d never eat candy or much junk food, for that matter. I’d offer her two choices for dinner—whatever I was having and another healthy choice such as a turkey sandwich or something simple to make—and she’d eat what I served. And she’d never eat her dinner in front of the TV.
But that was pure fantasy. The reality is the exact opposite. I nursed Jayda for over two years (clearly not for nourishment after the first year, but for comfort), and she co-slept in my bed with me every single night until she was three-and-a-half years old. I do try not to yell at her much, but I certainly lose my patience more times than I’d care to admit. And as far as Jayda’s diet is concerned, she eats far less junk food than many of her peers, but she certainly consumes it. She also eats her dinner in front of the TV when I need to get things done, or just want a break, and what she eats is generally macaroni and cheese, per her insistance.
Being a mother hasn’t turned out exactly how I expected it to be. It’s certainly more challenging, but on the other hand, it’s more rewarding, too. And it’s made me realize that a person can never know how she’s going to act in a certain situation until she’s in it. For example, I never planned to let Jayda get her ears pierced until she was at least ten years old. While I know plenty of mothers who pierce their kids’ ears when the children are infants, I’ve never supported that idea; I didn’t get my own ears done until I was twelve. However, for the last eighteen months, Jayda’s been pestering me to get her ears pierced, and about six months ago I decided to let her…soon…but to make it really count for something.
Jayda is turning five on May 18th, and I can hardly believe it. Like most children, Jayda wants the world: Every toy she sees, she “has to have,” and if she could, she’d like to wear a new outfit every day of her life. But the girl lacks for nothing, and for her birthday, I didn’t want to waste money on something she didn’t need. So, a few weeks ago, I decided the perfect birthday present for her would be to let her get her ears pierced. And because we had a free afternoon this past Saturday, I took her to the mall to get it done.
Surprisingly, the long-anticipated event was practically a non-event: The entire process was completed in just minutes—and Jayda didn’t even blink, let alone cry as I’d expected her to. But the earrings sure looked adorable on her—and made her ridiculously happy. For the rest of the afternoon, as Jayda and I wandered around the mall, she peered in every mirror she could find to admire herself, and told every salesperson she could approach that “I just got my ears pierced! Look!”
If you’d told me five years ago that my little girl would have sparkling pink flower earrings donning her ears just weeks before her fifth birthday, I would have scoffed at you. But it’s true, Jayda is wearing lovely little earrings—and we’re both quite happy about it. That’s the thing about motherhood: There’s more to it than just pleasing yourself—it’s even more important to please your child—as long as the actions you take are reasonably sensible, well thought-out, and you can live with the repercussions.