Super-Mom of the Month, June 2012
Super-Mom Jorie Mark
Confession: Before I was a mom, I was a control freak. Whatever I did, I did well. Having this kind of neurotic, Type A personality was good for me, career-wise—I went to an Ivy League school, went to grad school on full scholarship, snagged a great job right away and advanced pretty quickly—but it made me annoying to deal with, personally.
My husband put up with a lot.
And when we decided we wanted to start a family, I took the term “control freak” to new levels of insanity by reading several books about fertility, buying a basal thermometer, printing out ovulation charts, just about everything short of attaching a GPS device to my ovaries. (All perfectly reasonable things to do, if you have reason to suspect that you might face infertility issues—but I was a perfectly healthy, ordinary 28-year-old.)
Once I was pregnant, I got even worse. I became addicted to the BabyCenter emails telling me the size of my growing baby. “He’s a lemon, he’s a pumpkin!” I’d excitedly report to my husband. Sometimes I’d even vegetables or fruits that matched my BabyCenter report of the week (but always felt strange eating them!)
By the time I was in my last month of pregnancy, I was pretty sure I had this motherhood thing down pat. I’d crossed off a lot of major parenting decisions on my list: breastfeeding? Check. Epidural? Check. Bedtime routine? Check: bath with lavender, feeding in his rocking chair, gentle infant massage, CD of international lullabies playing in the background.
Then my water broke 3 weeks early, and all hell broke loose. I’d had an extreme allergic reaction to one of those exotic fruits I’d purchased, ended up spiking a high fever and needing an emergency c-section. Breastfeeding just did not work out. Jacob wouldn’t latch on and my milk didn’t come in until I was 6 days postpartum. I ended up pumping for six weeks straight—which is really no fun.
Plus, Jacob had severe jaundice, colic, wouldn’t sleep in the bassinet or the crib, and seemed to hate my international lullabies CD more than anything in the world. I ended up wearing him in a sling and walking around literally for hours, because this was the only way he was happy.
What I just described might sound truly horrible, but it was absolutely the best thing that ever happened to me. Because it changed me. Having all of my carefully crafted plans go completely awry made me realize that you just can’t control everything once you’re a parent.
You can’t make things happen exactly the way you want them to. And sometimes that can be the most amazing blessing.
Once we got out of the woods of those first three months, it was what Jacob did that I wasn’t expecting that delighted me the most. When he started to crawl, he crawled backwards. This struck me as hilarious. He poured entire boxes of Cheerios on the floor and had fun letting them slip through his finders, like sand. Instead of freaking out about the mess, which I would have done back in my control-freak days, I learned to enjoy it.
Jacob is now 9, and we’ve had two more children, Rebecca, age 6, and our baby, Charlie, who is 18 months. They’ve completely transformed the kind of woman I am. True, I still bring my Type A, overachieving self to the office every day (and to the trail when I run, and to spin class every Wednesday at 4:45 a.m.). But when I get home, I enjoy the lack of structure. I enjoy the sloppy kisses, food-covered hands on my dry-clean-only pants and stickers on my face.
I’m so grateful for the way all three of my babies have rocked my world.