I'll be honest. I'm still getting used to the title of Mother. I think I went so long believing that I wouldn't ever be a mother–not just for physiological reasons, but by choice–that when I did become one it took me a while to feel comfortable and competent in that skin.
It's been five years since we brought Noemi home now, and I feel like I'm starting to make progress. But there's so much gray in parenting that I often wonder. I've never been an overprotective mom, but in the early days, that stemmed more from the fact that I just figured Noemi had to be as safe, if not safer, with her dear daycare provider or the mom of a friend (especially if said mom had multiple kids) than with me. I felt so woefully incompetent. I've been on a gradual ascent out of that place over the past few years, but this spring finally popped me out of the pit.
Christopher and I have watched Noemi suck up any kind of teaching–intended or unwitting–all her life. When we first visited her in Guatemala at age 3-1/2 months, you could see the frown lines on her forehead as she tried to copy her Daddy's OK sign (which she succeeded in doing) and she'd practice her razz so ardently that her lips would go numb. Now, Noemi reads anything put in front of her (she literally cried yesterday when I said the book she was working her way through the first page of was for Gammy and not her … it was Ann Patchett's new novel). She's always thirsted to learn and tends to challenge herself. It's who she is. And as Christopher and I observed that trajectory, we started to feel she'd be more suited to first grade than kindergarten next year, but we had no idea what to do about it.
I asked for help. I asked for opinions. And I got both.
At first my “well I'm sure you know better than I do” mind chatter kicked in. But I started to realize that just because someone had an opinion didn't by default mean they knew what was best for my child. I learned to take what others were saying and rub it up against my own experience with my daughter. Experience, it dawned on me, that no one else had. Experience that only comes from being the mother of your child.
When we were presented with the option to move Noemi out of preschool and into Kindergarten for the last trimester, I literally wept with relief. I knew at my core it was the right thing to do, and we've seen that played out by Noemi stepping confidently into her new shoes.
A few people have pushed me–hard–on the decision, and in the beginning I would analyze everything to try and divine whether we'd royally screwed up Noemi's life. She cried once when I left the playground and I thought … OMG, she must have a latent attachment disorder and we've RUINED her by throwing her into a new setting–she'll never be able to have a healthy relationship. She threw a fit about picking up her room and I thought … we're pushing her too hard, she's going to grow up resenting us!
Enough already. Sure, we need to keep an eye out for red flags and, if need be, adjust. But second guessing everything just eats at you; none of us can predict the ultimate path of our child's life.
Knowing what I do of my daughter–before and after this transition–I'm confident we've made the right choice. And as gut wrenching as this all was to go through, there's something else I now know beyond a shadow of a doubt. I AM Noemi's Mom.