I have applied to only one writing contest since Little L was born nearly two years ago now. Applying and getting rejected from random contests used to be a favorite pasttime of mine.
The one contest that I applied to was something I found in Parents Magazine, a magazine that mysteriously began appearing at my house without my having ordered or paid for it shortly after Little L’s arrival.
The topic of the contest was something “unexpected” about yourself as a parent.
Unexpectedly, I missed the deadline, something that would not have slipped by me before parenthood. Now I’m lucky if I put the newly made yams in the fridge rather than back in the oven.
I sent the essay in anyway; this was the only thing I’d revised and edited in awhile and I wanted someone to read it. I didn’t even get a response, stripping me of my usual self-righteousness when I get the rejection email.
I don’t know if anyone ever read my entry, but you can read it now. It focused on mothering, so I’m sharing it in honor of Mother’s Day.
I am grateful to all of our parents/Little L’s grandparents for the love and support they show as we try our hand at this parenting thing. I love knowing Little L has us all on her team. Thank you.
As written, about a year ago (which is why some details seem incorrect as pertaining to my current life), about what surprises me about myself as a parent:
I don’t like clutter; as soon as my daughter outgrows her clothes, we pass them on. That’s exactly how I would have envisioned myself as a parent.
I also thought, naively, that I was going to continue as a self-sufficient adult.
About that, I was completely wrong.
My baby arrived six weeks early; we didn’t yet have a crib. She spent the first month in the hospital (we had time to get the crib). She couldn’t breastfeed; I pumped exclusively.
When she was six months old and it was time to leave her at daycare, she lasted – we lasted – four days.
We accepted my mom’s and mother-in-law’s offers, which we had rebuffed up until then, to watch her at home. My baby spends two days a week with her grandparents, one with me, and two with a babysitter – a dear friend’s cousin.
My mother-in-law brings us delicious vegetarian food. My mom does our laundry and sweeps. My father-in-law cleans our bathtub. The babysitter does the baby’s laundry and empties the dishwasher.
Without this parade of love, we would eat only frozen pizza and our baby would crawl around in dust bunnies and sleep on snot-filled sheets.
Both of our moms lived in cities without family nearby when we were born – perhaps this is why they are so quick to help us out. Not only does their love and support keep us fed and clean, but it strengthens our relationships with them and our daughter’s relationship with them too.
One of the best parts of this year is learning a seemingly obvious lesson: offering and accepting help is part of being a family.
I suppose it’s possible that my husband and I could survive parenting without this village of support.
I’m just thankful we don’t have to.
As originally not published, anywhere. Except here and now.