Queer Mom Chronicles: 10 Things I’ve Learned in My 10 Years of Motherhood

By the time y’all read this, I will have a 10-year-old boy living in my house.

Even though I begged him not to age, begged time to slow the fuck down, neither listened. My kiddo turned 10 this past weekend, and I have been having feelings.

The feelings are a mix of fear, elation, apprehension, unmitigated joy, utter despair, and a hefty dose of exhaustion. (I truly have not had a good night’s sleep in 10 years. I wish I was kidding, but I feel like I need to warn you all that haven’t gotten here yet.) They probably started this spring as I realized we were quickly tumbling through the calendar and, before I knew it, September would be here. Much as I wanted to, there was nothing I could do to stop the cruel hands of time from turning.

I was watching my favorite show The Golden Girls the other day, and Blanche has a line that felt too real at this moment in time: “I hated my kids getting older. It meant I was getting older. They’re like noisy little alarm clocks.” Amen, Blanche.

If he’s 10, that means I’m 37. But how is that possible? Wasn’t I just 25 a few weeks ago? Now I have a kid telling me I’m almost 40, and I’m afraid I’m going to throw my back out when I sneeze.

Ten years ago, I woke up around 6 a.m. because I was having contractions. It was a Sunday, and I had plans that afternoon to go shopping with my friend for all the things I would need for the hospital: an outfit for the baby, nursing bras, etc. I got a glass of water and laid on my couch to watch I Love Lucy on The Hallmark Channel. About four hours later, the contractions were more consistent. By one o’clock that afternoon, I realized we weren’t going to make it to Target that day.

I labored at home as long as I could physically stand it. Earlier that afternoon, I took a hot shower, and it helped with contractions for a while. I was doing my breathing exercises and spent a lot of time on the floor doing cat/cow stretches. As I walked out to meet my friend who was driving us to the hospital, the contractions were so strong I had to stand still when I had one. As we cruised down the 110, I felt the urge to push for the first time. By the time we got to the hospital, I couldn’t walk. I was fully dilated and ready to push, which I did for about an hour before a screaming little boy was placed on my chest.

That little boy changed my life in the best way possible. Things haven’t always been easy for us, but I wouldn’t change any of it; it has shaped both of us into the people we are today.

For the first six and a half years of his life, it was just me and the dude. Yes, we lived with my parents, but I was the center of his universe, and he was mine. We went everywhere together. I didn’t leave him alone for more than a couple hours at a time until he was four. It genuinely didn’t bother me, I loved hanging out with him, and it made my life easier to have him with me. He was the Robin to my Batman, and we were the most dynamic duo.

I always say my son is my broke little best friend, and I mean it. He is always down for a trip to Target, going for ice cream, or going some other place where he can spend my money. When he was younger, we used to take the bus to The Grove just to watch the fountain and get a snack. But even though he’s getting older, he still wants to hang out with me. And not just when I’m going to buy him something — even in the house! When he gets up in the morning, he always comes in and gives me a hug and a kiss. He’s too big to sit in my lap, but he’ll sit next to me in bed or on the couch for hours. When my partner has to work early in the morning and we don’t have anywhere to go, he’ll climb into my bed for snuggle time while we watch old 90s shows on my laptop.

He is truly the kindest, most sensitive boy — he wears his heart on his sleeve. He loves animals, especially dogs, hippos and giraffes, and lovingly refers to our pets as his brother and sisters. I have never met a 10-year-old with so much empathy and such a strong moral compass, even though sometimes it bites me in the ass. He is also insanely talented; he started teaching himself songs on the cello BY EAR six months after he started playing, and he’s really good at math. I’m already falling behind and he’s only in fourth grade.

My boy is a Virgo king, or as he tells people, “a regular Virgo,” which means stereotypical. He is neurotic, meticulous and definite. But he’s an Aquarius moon, which means he’s also aloof and a little emotionally detached. The kicker is his Pisces rising, which also makes him hyper emotional and prone to bursting into tears at the drop of a hat. He’s a walking ball of contradictions, but we love him so very much. Everyone gives me credit for how great he is, but honestly, it’s all him. I just hold on and try to keep him on the right track.

I always say he is the greatest thing I will ever create. This kid is going to change the world one day, and I can’t wait to watch him do it. The only thing I hope is that he knows how much I love him and how I will fight like hell to make his dreams come true. If that means literally fighting someone, I will absolutely do it. No one messes with my baby. I love you JWG, and I’m super fucking lucky to be your mom.

Here are 10 things I’ve learned in my 10 years of motherhood. Take them and do with them what you will.

  1. You will never know what you’re doing. Seriously. Just when you think you have a handle on it, they’re going to enter a new phase of life, and you’re gonna have to start all over again. The best thing you can do is try and keep up.
  2. Pick your battles. You can fight with your kid — or you can retain a small piece of your sanity. Have your non-negotiables, but also know where it’s easier to surrender. My son eats pretty much the same dinner every night because it felt easier to do that than to fight with him to try new foods. He’s nearly five feet tall at age 10, so I think he’s growing just fine.
  3. Always pack fruit snacks. Whether they’re for you or the kid, it’s always good to have a pack (or three) in your bag. It staves off hunger, keeps them quiet, keeps them occupied, whatever. It’s always so nice to find a pack in my purse when I need a quick jolt.
  4. There are people who will only know you as your kid’s mom. Embrace it. It’s a messy dance when it comes to motherhood and identity, but whether you like it or not, your kid’s identity is tied to yours in the outside world.
  5. There will never be enough Band-Aids. Kids are obsessed with them, even if they don’t really need them. I swear, we buy them every other month. Sometimes I think my son is eating them, they disappear so fast.
  6. The bathtub water will never stay in the tub. You can ask them to stop reenacting the scene in Free Willy where he jumps out of the water — or you can just throw some extra towels down and keep it moving.
  7. At some point, you will end up with a pet you don’t want in the house. Last year, all my son wanted for his birthday was a guinea pig. To be fair, he had been asking for five years. I told him we could get one, and we ended up with two. I’m still mentally in a fight with the Petco employee who convinced him he needed two.
  8. LEGOs will end up between your toes at some point. Yes, they feel like a thousand tiny knives when you step on them, but the super tiny ones will just wedge themselves between your toes and you won’t even realize it.
  9. There will never not be laundry. It’s truly amazing how quickly my son goes through underwear and socks. Again, I have to ask what he’s doing with them. It feels like I’m constantly washing them. And his pants. And pajamas.
  10. Time really does fly. It’s a total cliche, and I hated when moms of older kids told me that when mine was little. But I still vividly remember swaddling him in the hospital, and now he’s almost looking me in the eye and calling me “bruh.” Smash Mouth wasn’t kidding when they said “the years start coming and they don’t stop coming.”

Queer Mom Chronicles is a column where I examine all of the many facets of queer parenthood through my tired mom eyes. 

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Sa'iyda Shabazz

Sa'iyda is a writer and mom who lives in LA with her partner, son and 3 adorable, albeit very extra animals. She has yet to meet a chocolate chip cookie she doesn't like, spends her free time (lol) reading as many queer romances as she can, and has spent the better part of her life obsessed with late 90s pop culture.

Sa'iyda has written 115 articles for us.

8 Comments

  1. “It’s a messy dance when it comes to motherhood and identity, but whether you like it or not, your kid’s identity is tied to yours in the outside world.”

    So very relatable! Thank you for sharing this and the other tips!

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