“A mother is a person who, seeing there are only four pieces of pie for five people, promptly announces that she never did care for pie.” –Tenneva Jordan
I few weeks ago, I celebrated my birthday. In past years, I’ve looked forward to my birthday, as my husband and I always celebrate our birthdays with a special dinner out together, just the two of us, usually involving wine, steak, and creme brulee. This year, however, I had a different celebration in mind. My husband asked, “So, where do you want to go for your birthday dinner?”. Nate, our three year old, was standing in the kitchen with us, clearly listening in on our conversation. “Well,” I replied, “there’s this restaurant I’ve heard about…with elephants, a waterfall, fish, butterflies…I can’t remember what it’s called…” I pretended to be thinking. Nate had been there once with my parents, and had been begging to go back for six months. “THE RAINFOREST CAFE?!?” Nate screamed. “Yes..that’s it! I want to go to the Rainforest Cafe, with you, Nate, and Joshua for my birthday!” I responded.
My husband didn’t look amused.
“Really? THAT’S where you want to go?” he asked. I nodded. Yes. I wanted to spend my birthday in a noisy, crowded restaurant, eating over-priced, marginally decent, horribly unhealthy food while animatronic gorillas beat their chests during pretend thunderstorms every 30 minutes. Was I NUTS?!
It’s certainly not that I don’t want to spend time with my husband. If anything, I wish we had more time to spend together. However, I’ve realized that becoming a mother has shifted my perspective, changed what makes me happy.
Before kids, I’d probably have criticized a mother such as myself. “Why does it always have to be about the kids? Sheesh! Be an adult! Don’t lose your identity!” I’d think to myself as I watched her feign excitement over the Volcanic Cobb Salad or the Lava Nachos. But now, I’ve realized that for better or worse, what makes me happiest is seeing my kids happy. Sure, my own achievements also make me happy, and I still do have my own life apart from my family, but I realized that creme brulee is just a dessert, and seeing my kids light up is what I really wanted for my birthday.
Being a mother has really changed my focus to creating memories: for myself, and for my sons. When I go to bed at night I’m left thinking “What will the boys remember about today?”. The reality is that there are some nights when this thought makes me sad: “Ugh. Today they will remember how I lost it when that cup of milk spilled into the clean laundry basket, or how I rushed Nate out of Target because I didn’t have time to stop and look at the Christmas tree display for the 100th time”. My goal as a mother is for those memories to be happy ones. That’s what matters now in my life.