The M Word

Apparently it’s going to take me more than three months to not squirm at the “m word.”  And no, I don’t mean moist.

So.  I’ve been a…*cough*…a mo…*swallow*…a moth…*cough, cough*…a mothe…*ahem*…a MOTHER (there I said it!) for three months.  Three months.  THREE.  MONTHS.  (Hey, Jenny Slater.)

Also?  Please don’t expect me to call Rocco “Dad.”  “Dad” lives in Virginia with “Mom” on a beautiful lake where they practice the hammer dulcimer and pottery respectively.  Actually, I don’t think there’s much respect involved with either of their approaches to those disciplines, but you know what I meant.  Or you didn’t.  Which is cool, too.  Just not as cool as a tutorial on how to make unicorn poop cookies.

Notice how I used the word “poop?”  And you cunts thought I couldn’t clean up my fucking language.  BooYAH.

Two guesses as to how much sleep I’ve had the past several nights.

So as I was saying, Paul is finally/already three months old.  I’ve been a…don’t make me say it again…for three whole months.  That’s longer than I underwent chemotherapy.  Truth be told, I’m not sure which three months felt longer.

Oh I know people hate it when I compare anything kid-esque to cancer.  It’s always, “How can you even say them in the same sentence?” or, “They aren’t the same thing at all!” or, “But a baby is so much more rewarding and fulfilling!  The prize for getting through these first few months is so much better.”

Yes, a baby is a wonderful, miraculous thing.  Point taken.  But not dying?  Pretty damn rewarding.  Pretty damn fulfilling.  Saving a life is right up there with creating one in my humble opinion.

I’ve tried to stop comparing them.  Really.  But it’s human nature to compare things, right?  I mean, you compare last night’s dinner at the trendy restaurant to the one you had last week at your favorite diner.  You compare your new apartment to your last apartment.  You compare your brother’s current girlfriend to the one he had a decade before.  So how can I not compare the two most difficult undertakings of my life?

If even just to remind myself of the differences.

I’m exhausted. (Add a check to the “like chemo” column.)  I can never decide if I’m ravenous or nauseous.  (Check.)    There’s all kinds of rules about what I can and can’t eat.  (Check.)  I have to use those plastic, old people pill organizers to keep all these meds straight.  (Check.)  I’m nervous about leaving the house and trying to accomplish normal people things like going to the grocery store.  (Check.)  We spend a lot of nights hysterically crying while seeking information on the internet.  (Sigh and check.)  My body is not my own.  (Double check.)

But my tumor never smiled or cooed.  Or if it did, it never showed up on any of the CT scans.  And much like when I finished those three months of chemo, I can see some sort of light at the end of the tunnel.  I’m finally starting to understand why people do this voluntarily.  (Though I’m still going to need some time to wrap my brain around people doing this repeatedly.)

Ok that sounds overly harsh when I reread it.  I’m glad Paul is here.  Ecstatic.  Just like I’m glad I fought cancer.  And I would never, ever undo either of those things.  I guess I’m just saying they’re both hard.  Really, really hard.  But the good stuff usually is.

I showed an early version of this post to Rocco who found it most unsettling.  “Aren’t you worried Paul will see this some day and think we didn’t love him?”  If one little post like this could ever make Paul’s doubt that he is loved and cherished, then we will have made a whole mess of much bigger mistakes.  If there is one thing and one thing only I am confident I can give this child, it’s love.  If it’s two things, the other will be the ability to use curse words with creativity and aplomb.

“I just didn’t realize you were having second thoughts,” was Rocco’s second comment.  *sigh*  I suppose this isn’t coming out right.  I’m never going to be the gal that evangelizes motherhood, endlessly extolling how it saved me from a life of emptiness or some other Hallmarky bullshit.  That just ain’t me.  But that’s not saying I’m having second thoughts or regrets or Casey Anthony-esque thoughts.  I’m in this.  Hard.  He is of me.  My flesh.  My blood.  Shit y’all, I was willing to sacrifice my VAGINA for him long before I even met him.  I call that committed.

I’m also committed to recycling.  That doesn’t mean I’m going to treasure every moment of dry heaving while I scrub out the furry, green chunks previously known as mushroom soup that permanently attached themselves to the inside of a glass jar on the back, bottom shelf of the fridge.

After Rocco’s reaction to the post, I sent it to Mom for a second opinion.  “But Paul has brought you a happiness you’ve never known, right?”  So just in case there’s any doubt, I’ll say it for the record: he brings me joy.  Immense, indescribable joy.  Don’t make me write out all that other Lifetime Movie-esque blather that people expect moms to spout out ad nauseum, ok?  Just take my word for it.  You’ve seen how I dote on Mildred and SHE’S A FUCKING CAT.  OF COURSE this kid is my world.

Huh.  Maybe that’s just it.  The source of the discombobulation.  The unease.  The what-the-fuck-did-I-do-what-if-this-never-gets-any-easier-and-what-if-I-never-get-to-lock-myself-in-a-room-with-a-bottle-of-wine-and-my-favorite-pen-and-and-write-until-2am-again-ness.

Paul is my world now – my entire world.  I eat, sleep, and breathe him.  Everything else that was before has been nullified.  Everything that comes after is completely uncharted and foreign.  Like…say…I dunno…when my whole world was cancer.  Some things are just too big for there to be room for anything else.

And even though I know we moth….m words…aren’t supposed to say such things, I’ve just gotta.  Because that’s what I would have done three months ago.  Or three years ago – the last time I feared losing my voice.

….and then a friend sent me a link to this article.  Throw in a tiny dash of cancer and pretend I said all that instead, ok?

In summary, it’s a good thing The Overlord is adorable.  The end.


  1. Loved every minute of this. I even got choked up. And of course precious Paul in a Zack outfit ROCKS!

  2. You know, I always say, there is nothing more boring than hearing people going on ad nauseum about their kids, but I respect their right to do it because it’s something interesting to THEM and becaue I don’t HAVE to read it.

    But you, I don’t mind reading about when you’re talking about motherhood because you do it properly, honestly, without the sap and the Hallmark factor and you are humorous. So I am delighted to hear about Paul (who IS adorable, by the way!) and I know the stuff you say will be interesting and/or funny. YOU DO IT RIGHT! We know you love and adore Paul and that obviously he’s the most tremendous thing in your life, and like you, we know there’s no need for you to state the obvious, therefore, you can get on with being entertaining at the same time without us thinking ‘Jesus, that’s harsh!’ It’s not harsh. It’s awesome.

    This analysis brought to you by someone who likes gin.

  3. I don’t have kids. I think they’re great, don’t get me wrong, but very, very scary. You give me hope that if I *should* ever have them, I might be able to remain the same person I am now. Who I’m sort of starting to actually like sometimes.

    Basically, you’re awesome.

  4. Mothers are expected to be endlessly self-sacrificing, especially in regard to babies. And to do it without complaint. People do not want to hear any suggestion, however small, that it is hard or unfair. Speak your truth, Elly!

  5. Elly, you are the most amazing woman and are already a fan-frickin-tastic M-word! I only met you once briefly (I went to school with Rocco & you guys came over to a friend’s house for dinner when I was visiting NY) and I wish I could have gotten to know you better before I moved from NYC.

    I love following your blog and look forward to reading more throughout the year and seeing Paul get bigger (& cuter if that’s possible).

  6. Jesus, I turn my back for ONE minute, and out you drop a baby?? When the hell did that happen? Oh wait – three months ago, right? See? I am paying atention.

    Well, at least he’s cute. Very, actually. As a fellow M-word of four, I’d love to throw out some hope here, but I’d only get blisters on my tongue. Twenty years down the line, I still haven’t a life. Many says it serves us breeders right, but even if it does, hell, you only get the same for murder, surely that can’t be right?

    Nice to see you’re still human though. Took me the first five years to reach where you’re at now..

  7. being a parent of a newborn is like treading water in the middle of the atlantic. you are constantly exhausted and it never stops. women who have more than one baby have amnesia or they’d never have more than one (except for that .001 percent who are love love love being pregnant, are never sick throughout pregnancy and then have a nanny after birth).

    just like fighting cancer, you’re in a marathon race to the end (either remission or die in the one case, or the kid gets out of diapers or DCS comes to get it in the other). But there is an end. It will get easier as Paul becomes more self-sufficient. Well – not easier, but a different kind of hard – one that lets you get a full night’s sleep.

    Fuck those people who mistake your doubts for bad motherhood. 1) their opinion doesn’t matter, 2) 95% of those who criticize haven’t had a kid and don’t know what the hell they’re talking about (see #1), and 3) aren’t you (see #1).

    So – don’t be afraid of your feelings or of sharing them.

    and remember while you are changing Paul’s nasty diapers and wiping the drool off of his chin today, one day Paul will be changing your diapers and wiping the drool off of your chin in your dotage. You are raising your own home health nurse.

  8. Remember when I said, those first three months, fifteen million years long (did I remember to say that to you?). Uh huh (nodding). You’ve hit on all of it. This is it, and I only like mutherfuckers who are willing to say it. (sorry) (sort of) (usually I reserve that title for my husband who is, well, um, ya.)

    Good news. The first year is fifteen years long, and you are already 1/4 of the way through it. If I could still do math, I would totally tell you what that means in real time, but dude, I’ve had three. In four years I had three and I still can’t say the m word. Well, not without fucker after it. (Try it!!!)

    I’ve never had cancer (that I know of), but every time you connected the two, my head nodded without my permission and tears were triggered. The things that change our life are not always easy. And I’ve had some things that changed my life, that were anything but easy (see: my so-called childhood). And I am so grateful to have had them because, well. Here I am. A motherfucker.

    Finally. In my experience, first year: 15 years, second year: improvement. I had my second kid 18 months after the first (I was OLD, dude, I had to be quick) and those first 3 months were like, holy fuckballs, warp speed 9. But the years till now, where my first is almost 9, my second 7, my third soon 5, were long and sometimes so all consuming I thought I would die but now, looking back, a mere moment. I am okay with that and not sorry I lived through it and it is gone. I occasionally get a bit … something … when I think of each of them, especially my first, as a baby. It is indescribable, the feeling because I am both not sorry it is gone and I miss it like a motherfucker.

    See? That word again.

    And HA! I wrote a response that paid homage to the length of your beautiful post. I think Paul will know how much he is loved, even if he only read the part about how hard this time is. Because you will still be with him, despite this mind warp. Phew. I think I’m done now.

  9. I am commenting on this post for the sake of commenting because I don’t know quite what to say but want to say something.

  10. I’m thinking that if you are exhausted and teary sometimes you are probably doing a great job at the m-thing. If you were relaxed and nonchalant because you had just locked yourself in a room with a box o wine and a writing pen, I might be more worried. booyah yourself. I think what Paul was trying to say in your video was, ” I #$@%ing love you, M-person with a y on the end.

  11. The Overlord truly is adorable, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have all those other feelings as well. I don’t know why it’s frowned upon to deviate from the Hallmark motherly script. I love my 2 hellspawn but it’s not always easy, and I think back to those early days and shudder. Saying it’s hard, or that you want to be you, isn’t a bad thing and has nothing to do with how much you love them. He’ll know he’s loved and adored, because it’s the bazillion little things you do over all the years that show your love for him. I say Sing it Sista!

  12. First, YOU HAVE MADE IT THOUGH THE FIRST THREE MONTHS. This is excellent. Do this three more times, and then we can really celebrate. Because my heart didn’t slow to a normal pace until Hayden was a year old. When he took his first steps, I finally breathed. Mothering has been the hardest thing I have done and ever will do. When Hayden was 6 months old, I boldly announced to anyone who cared that we would NOT be having another child. Everyone thought I was crazy and rash, and clearly I forgot my own declaration, and two long difficult years later, I am saying it again. For realz. But when little Paul turns to you one day and says, Mommy, I love you, for no reason at all? Or when you see him comfort another child? Or attempt to write his name for the first time? These are the fruits of your effort.

  13. The first year of G’s life I was cuh-fucking-razy for reals. In my head I mean, I think I hid it well. I loved every minute of it, now. Then? I could have used a lot more booze. And cigarettes.
    Sending love your direction, you got this.

  14. My fucking uterus just bashed up against the inside of my body cavity. That is how enchanting that video is.
    Anyway, don’t worry one my kids called me a mf’er the other day so that can be used in lieu of “mom” “momma” or “mother”.
    Also, I like to think of Paul as a tiny monarch as opposed to an overlord. Get him a crown STAT.

  15. Paul is delicious and has much to say already, I can see.

    As for the m-word, I’ve had students tell me I don’t seem very maternal. Others have asked if I even like my kids. I have to tell them often, “I LOVE my kids. They just get in the way of everything.” I guess that doesn’t make it sound much better. But all this is to say, I adore my kids, I adore this post, and I feel ya, sister.

  16. Kids rule, the love of our lives, blah blah blah. It’s all true, but so is the parasite/succubus/demon seed side. I think our kids will realize even more how much they’re loved when they read our words someday. Words about what little shits they can be and yet we still get up in the night as soon as they cry, we still fix snacks and kiss owies and remember favorite stuffed toys on trips. We still love them in spite of their monsterhood. Isn’t that what we’re all looking to have confirmed?

  17. My m-word told me many many times how she wanted to throw me out a window, leave me in traffic, put me in the dishwasher, among other things when I was an infant. And then she wrote poems about how annoying I was as a 12 year old. She never laid a hand on me, and I have never questioned that she loves me very much. Speak the truth, it’s soooo appreciated.

  18. Just remember, this is the shortest/longest time of your life. Time will fly and crawl. And one day you will look back on these moments and smile — mostly because they are over.

    Oh, and I like being a mother fucker.

  19. So late to comment!

    He’s ridiculously cute. Now, I’m not having ANYMORE in my own womb, but I might could go steal one from the hospital for a few hours. He’s that inspiringly cute. The hair!

    I’m not in the least confused or dismayed by your post. You’re in love with your baby. He’s made you incapacitated with sleeplessness and concern. Those things are not contradictory in my book.

    Hugs, momma. It’s crazy, crazy shit being a parent. And if there’s one thing you must do, it’s not to confuse being a mother with your identity. It will pay dividends now and in the long run to let Paul know that you are devoted, maybe even doting, but that first and foremost you are Elly. How better to help him understand that the most important thing he will ever do is be Paul—any other role he will ever play is just an aspect of Paul.

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