Join me this morning in wishing a very happy birthday to Deb, the blogging savvy behind Urban Moo Cow! I’m honored she is willing to celebrate her special day here by taking part in the Mom of the Year series. Her writing is an honest, intelligent look at the world surrounding us as parents. Her love for her son is overwhelmingly evident through all of her posts, which command introspection. Thanks, Deb, for choosing this as the place to tell the story of how you became who you are, the Moo Cow of the Year! And happy birthday!
Once in the early days of momhood I caught my husband beaming at me while I was nursing our newborn son.
“What?” I asked.
“You are a very good moo cow,” he responded with a smile.
Another woman might have been offended at the moniker. I knew, however, he was simply happy that the incredibly fraught and over-politicized issue of breastfeeding was going smoothly. (I’m also pretty sure he was amazed and a little flabbergasted that I was making food for our baby inside my body.)
A nickname was thus born, and even now that I have (bittersweetly) weaned my 14-month-old son, we still imagine he calls me Moo Cow. As in, “No, you go to sleep, Moo Cow.” Or, “Hand over your phone, Moo Cow. I need to
make a call press buttons.”
Somewhere along the line, we even developed a new, personalized verse to the song “You Are My Sunshine”:
I am your Moo Cow
Your personal Moo Cow
I make you happy all night and day
You’ll never know dear
How much I love you
I won’t take your Moo Cow away
Moo Cow of the Year?
On the glossy outside, according to the cultural mores of our oh-so-civilized society, I am most certainly Mom — or Moo Cow, as it were — of the Year. Here’s why:
1. I exclusively breastfed until Henry was a year.
2. I am a stay-at-home mom (the most egregious misnomer this side of the Milky Way).
3. I feed my son organic food.
4. I take him to music, swimming, Italian and yoga classes.
5. I’m one half of a loving pair.
6. I’m a healthy size eight: not too big, not too small. Medium.
On the gritty inside, according to me, I am anything but worthy of such a distinction.
1. I stopped breastfeeding when Henry was a year, even though I wanted to continue.
2. I have a whole bunch of fancy degrees sitting around collecting dust. Someday, my sweet boy will look at me innocently and ask, “Why don’t you work, Mommy?” And a part of me will die. Alternately, I will go back to work and regret the time I don’t spend with him. Then he will ask me, “Mommy, why can’t you be at my soccer game?” And a different part of me will die.
3. Despite my nearly-full-time mom status, I always end up winging meals (pasta-with-butter-and-parm again!), and the organic vegetables often come from plastic packets. Once, I poisoned him with carefully selected local organic flash-pasteurized whole milk that had expired days earlier. Good one, Moo Cow.
4. Taking him to classes is a level of overwhelming seemingly not commensurate with the activity. When I get there, I mostly enjoy the classes; at least I enjoy watching him enjoy them. The key, however, is getting there. I live in New York, and any amount of getting anywhere involves strollers or chest carriers and subway stairs and crowded buses on which girl fights sometimes break out. It is exhausting. Poor me, and my awful, horrible first-world problems.
5. I can’t manage to rekindle passion with my husband. I love him so much, yet my body seems to have forgotten how to come alive. Come to think of it, my body seems to have forgotten how to do a lot of things, like…
6. … fit into my jeans. Size eight? On a good day. I used to be a perfect size four. My new body disgusts me.
How Much I Love You
I cry every day. Every. Single. Day. Tears of joy, tears of despair, tears of the overwhelmed stay-at-home mom, tears of the joyful and wondrous mother in love. In the moments I most despise myself, I pray to whomever is out there that my son never knows how much. In my happiest moments, I pray that I may transfer some happiness to him.
I write late at night, while Henry slumbers in his crib, my husband snores lightly in our bed and even my dog is curled up in a hidden corner. Sometimes I slip into the windowless nursery and pause; I watch my son sleep in his bizarre face-down-butt-up fetal position before covering him with his blanket. The amount of love I feel for this tiny being takes my breath away.
I am your Moo Cow, your personal Moo Cow.
To Henry, I am undeniably Moo Cow of the Year. Even though I stopped nursing him, even though I’m a mediocre cook, even though I sweat profusely and swear occasionally on the way to class. When he sees me his smile lights up the room. And my heart melts. I am, for the time being, his everything.
Hovering over his crib in the dark, I shed a few tears, a small offering to the fervent wish that someday — despite all the mistakes I will have made, despite all the flaws he will have uncovered — he realizes just how much I love him. I hope, too, that he will still consider me Moo Cow of the Year. In truth, his is the only vote I need.