My little photojournalist, at age 2. All photos by Jonathan Canlas.
Oh, So My Life Makes a Difference
Former journalist becomes stay-at-home mom
Once upon a time I wrote newspaper headlines. I worked late hours in a newsroom with other copy editors, laying out pages and editing the day’s stories. We picked apart the news with a vengeance – fix a forgotten comma here, reword a sentence there. I felt fulfilled, my work made a difference, I contributed to society.
After my first child was born, I stopped working at the paper. I found my sudden introduction into motherhood completely baffling. Despite all the baby books I read, I was unprepared for the realities of parenthood. No book, or amount of formal training could tell me how terrifying it is to nurse a newborn. I never took Enduring Endless Crying 101 in college. And how could I edit out the numbers of poopy diapers I changed?
My daughter Mei, gave her dad and me a hard time when she came home from the hospital. She was a beautiful baby, but she sure liked to scream. A lot. I had this strange, 8-pound creature in my house that did nothing but eat, sleep, and cry. Exhausted by my inabilities to care for her – I wanted nothing else but to do the same. I fed my child. Held my child. Changed my child. This was my routine now, no breaking news here.
I began to wonder if my journalism degree was worth it. My full-time career was now my baby. I couldn’t see the fruits of my labor and I wondered if I was fulfilled. How could these mundane robotic motions I call motherhood change the world?
One afternoon, little Mei decided to be pleasant. There was no loud, ear-shattering siren blaring from her mouth. She was calm and quiet, and lay completely motionless on my queen-sized bed. Her big brown eyes were fixated at some non-existent object on the wall. I watched my baby’s chest rise up and down with each tiny breath. Mei was so tranquil, so silent. Not wanting to destroy the peaceful moment in the room, I slowly lowered myself next to her. She remained quiet, still captivated by the nothingness in front of her.
I relaxed next to my daughter and marveled at her perfect fingers. All 10 of her teeny-tiny toes, long and slender just like mine. She had long eyelashes, like her dad. Newborn, Mei looked very Chinese, just like my mom.
I knew my daughter would not have the ability to understand my words, but I was suddenly so anxious to talk to her. To tell her about the grandmother she would never meet. All the good food we would someday cook together. How happy I was to have her with me.
At the sound of my voice, my little baby stopped her staring contest with the wall and her face turned toward me. I continued to speak, and this four-day-old baby shifted her body towards mine. She couldn’t completely turn on her side, but she attempted to roll herself towards me. As if she was reaching, understanding.
I was shocked. She could not comprehend the conversation I was having with her, but I could tell she recognized me. And I began to recognize her. This is my baby girl. I am her mom. She is my contribution.
My journalism professors would be so proud. All my training in the newsroom and at the copy desk led to my reporting on my experiences as a mom. No coverage in any national syndication, just highlights in my personal family publications. Now today’s top headlines read, “Mei Finishes Squash at Lunch” or “Veeda Finds Recipe Success With Pad Thai!” It might not be world changing news, but it defines the events in my life. And to me, this makes all the difference.
From Veeda Bybee of White Lotus Cooks.
Note from Design Mom: for the duration of my pregnancy, I’ll be posting advice, memories and stories about pregnancy, childbirth, adoption and growing a family on Wednesdays. You can find them all by clicking here. I’d love to hear your story or memory or advice, feel free to submit it to firstname.lastname@example.org.