January 17th, 2013

A month before my daughter, Paisley, turned two last spring, the legend of the terrible twos moved in to my home. I’ve had house guests that wouldn’t leave before, but this felt like an invasion bordering on hostage situation. My sweet, delicate girl turned in to a mean little temperamental monster overnight. And there’s no dosage on the Midol bottle for 22 pounds – I checked. By fall, she was mostly back but returned with an assertive, independent streak I only casually regret donating to her via the gene pool. Now, four months before turning three, this little bopsy-blonde darling is test-driving 13. Dear Lord in heaven we are in for it.

During a recent tirade of batting arms, tears, screaming, and defiant outbursts, I looked in those big blue eyes and thought – you have no idea what it’s like to be your mom. While she fights every day to gain more control over herself and her surroundings, I fight every day to grow in to this shell called mom. She doesn’t know that because all she sees are the smiles, hugs, kisses for booboos, and deep impatient sighs. As with most toddler fits, I can’t recall what that one was about, but I know minutes later we were playing as if it had never happened.

What I would love to let her know in those moments, or remind her when the terrible teens strike, is this…

Paisley, I’m not unlike a lot of moms. I’m constantly whispering “worst mother ever” to myself. I live in perpetual fear that I’m already screwing you up in some irreversible way (I live by Chris Rock’s parenting mantra, “keep your girl off the pole”). I’m constantly striving to make you the most well-rounded, thoughtful, funny, creative, kind person that I can, all while trying not to lose my own mind or those qualities in myself.

What you don’t see are the six years your dad and I waited, hoped, worked, and saved for you. We can tell you the stories, but you’ll never know how the battle wounds of our infertility and IVF are forever marked on my heart, mind, and one remaining ovary. Because of that, you’ll never know that I smother you because I’m making up for the years I didn’t have you, how you all too quickly outgrew being the baby I’d longed for, and how even sooner you’ll no longer be my baby but my equal. You can never know that I’m overprotective to a fault because the thought of losing you or seeing you hurt beyond what a Mad Libs bandage can repair is unbearable.

You’ll never know how I agonize over being a working mom. You go to bed at 8, so you don’t see the many nights I work until nearly midnight only to rise and shine with you at 6. You’ll never know how every time I write a check to the nanny that my heart aches. It is impossible to reconcile paying someone your hard-earned money to hang out with the person you love the most. How could work be more important than you? And yet, it will be a good many years from now before you understand that it’s not more important, just necessary. Plus, I love it and you and I can’t give up either.

I constantly weigh my incredible need to sleep in against the incomparable lazy weekend mornings in our bed spent with you crawling over your dad and I and faking a hearty laugh as you tickle us to death.

I hope when you’re grown you see a model of a woman who was independent, successful, smart, and who managed to balance it all. Yes, I just described an entourage of female superheroes. I hope you also see a woman who could wear those outfits in public without embarrassing either of us.

My fear is that you’ll actually have a picture of either Angelica’s wicked mom from Rugrats or a 50’s housewife. I think you only see me running to work or racing to make dinner. What you don’t see is how I truly love being in my kitchen and how important it is that I make those meals for you guys, for us. We’re healthier and a stronger family for it. When else would I get to hear you ask, “What good ’bout your day mama?”

You’ll never see how long I go past the point of needing new bras, wear one toe painted from a previous pedicure, or long for a quiet adult dinner with your father so that you’ve got tuition for preschool, an in-home nanny, $7 per gallon organic milk, and a house with excellent proximity to the park. I make these sacrifices not only because it comes with the territory, but because I want to. I chose this.

I hope over the years we get along more than we don’t, but more so I hope that in the moments we aren’t excited about the other that we can both try to recognize where the other is coming from and meet in the middle. After all, as little as we understand about our hormones and emotional fluxes, your dad is completely on his own!

Brandi Koskie has shared more insight about her ovaries online than most women do with their gynecologist as the mama behind the web’s first IVF fundraiser site, BabyOrBust.com. She calls Wichita home with her geeky red-headed husband who makes raising a sassy toddler more fun than than she dared dream possible. She’s good for an easy laugh, cheap rom-com tears, and has been told she makes killer Mexican food for a white girl. When it’s time to get down to business, you’ll find Brandi manning the editor chair at DietsInReview.com. You can also follow her on Twitter @brandik.

Image by Jennifer White Portraits

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