However, for each sleepless night, each molar that took longer to come in than it should have taken, each projectile vomit incident, each visit to urgent care, each fight over hair brushing or teeth brushing, I silently exhale and know deep down that being a mom is who I was meant to be.
Yesterday, I was a flotation device in the pool. My main purpose was to keep Miranda buoyant. For hours, we just played and splashed and laughed in the cool waters. Every time I asked for a break or to get out, my stubborn charge pouted and refused to leave. Eventually, it clicked to me that one day (maybe soon!) she will not want me to be the one in the pool with her. So I stopped complaining and just enjoyed being with her.
When we finally did take a break, it was to use the restroom. For the first time ever, she walked in by herself and did not need me. I hovered in the foyer area in case she called for me, but she didn't. In some ways, she needs me less and less. When she came out of the stall, her suit was all twisted, and part of her tush was hanging out. In some ways, she needs me more.
I will never know what it would have been like to parent Allie the way I parent Miranda. I do not know what kind of child Allie would have been and that keeps me up some nights. I was supposed to be her mom every bit as much as I was supposed to be Miranda's mom and it guts me that I was robbed of that chance.
I refuse to spend my life in a cloud of anger. That's not fair to anyone, including me.
Going back to work has been such a gift for me. It has given me something to do and be, aside from Allie and Miranda's mom. Working has made me step outside of myself and my comfort zone and forced me to think about how I can help others. I am so grateful for the opportunity. And it shows. If you ask Miranda what I do when I go to work, she says, "You help people, mama." I guess I do. And they help me, too.
At 44, I still need my mom. So I know, in a way, Miranda will always need me. I look forward to a day when she lets me have some time and space back, but I also dread it. See? Being a mom is hard.
I am so lucky to have it so hard.