The Best Part of Me is Her

Morgan Armstad Single/Step Parent

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There’s a question in my daughter’s baby book that asks, “What was mommy’s first reaction to finding out about baby?” I still haven’t filled in that blank. Mostly because the true answer isn’t one I really want her to see when she’s looking back years from now and reading those memories I’ve recorded. I could write that I was so happy I cried, or that I rushed to tell daddy immediately with a smile on my face, but that would be a lie.

I did cry, but they weren’t tears of joy. As a 20-year-old broke college student who had recently changed her major three years in to her studies, I was the furthest thing from ready to have a baby. So when those two pink lines showed themselves, before I’d even had a chance to put the stupid pee stick thingy down, the tears came and didn’t stop for hours.

I was crying because I was terrified to my core that I wouldn’t be able to do any of it. I cried because the father and I were not on the best of terms, and I cried for all the dreams I was sure would be lost to me now, because of being a young, single mom.

Two of my best friends were there to witness my tears, and when they asked me what I wanted to do to try and get my mind off it for the night I replied, “ I wanna drink some whiskey!” (With one or two expletives likely thrown in there too, just for good measure). Loving friends that they are, they got me my whiskey. Two sips in though I put the glass down, and I didn’t have another romp with my good friend Jack until many months later.

I don’t really want any part of this story to be written in my daughter’s baby book. Even though it’s the truth and she deserves to have a mother who is always honest with her.

I guess the important thing to tell her isn’t how I first reacted to finding out I was going to be a mother. Instead, the things I want to be sure my daughter knows are all the ways that being a mom has made me a better version of myself. In every single aspect of my life I have grown up. I’ve become a kinder, more motivated, patient and forgiving person, and I know it’s all because of Skye.

Before getting pregnant, I was slogging my way through life and not succeeding at a whole lot of anything, unless you count partying and making new friends as marks of success. I was kicking butt and taking names at that.

However in my first five semesters of college I’d managed to fail three classes. That was a huge sign of my lack of dedication, because in high school I was traumatized every time I got a C. I just stopped caring, about my education or any responsibilities other than working. Even that was just to make more money to party. A few months before I found out I was pregnant, I literally skipped a test just because my best friend and I were in the middle of an intense Dexter marathon and I just couldn’t break myself away from the gory drama.

I didn’t just fail that test; I didn’t even go and make an attempt to pass.

Everything turned around after Skye was born. She changed everything, and suddenly it mattered what I did with my life. I took a semester off from school, but when I went back there was an immediate, and noticeable, difference in my motivation and drive to do well.

The graph depicts my GPA levels per semester since starting college, and it shows how having my daughter has turned my success around – I found out I was pregnant in December 2011. If there were a way to measure and graph my happiness or motivation, their lines would look the same. Even with the most difficult parts of single parenting included, my world has been on an uphill slope since my daughter entered into it.

I care so much more now about the kind of person I am, and how I can work to better myself every day. Not because I don’t think I’m good enough as I am, but because I want to always be striving to be the best mom and example I can be for my daughter.

After she was born I was mostly alone, but with an amazing support system. I was tired and terrified pretty much all of the time, but I was also happier than I’d ever been in the entirety of my life. Every second spent with her is a gift, and one that I intend to cherish.

Mothering came very naturally to me. I think it’s because I have, in my completely unbiased opinion, the best possible role model in my own mom. It also helped that I had one of the easiest babies on the planet; we’re talking barely ever cried, could digest anything, slept through the night at two months old easy. That doesn’t mean I didn’t struggle, or that I don’t still.

I do sometimes catch myself wishing I could live as freely as the majority of my friends and peers are able to. Oh to have the ability to go get a drink whenever I want, use the bathroom without tiny hands searching under the door for me, or not have someone screaming for my attention ten thousand times a day. What a life that would be!

Then I remember that to have those things would mean not having her, and those wishes evaporate right away.

She is my reason for being. Despite my initial unpreparedness for her arrival, she has been the best part of my day every day for the last three years, and I know she will continue to be so for the rest of my life. Not all those days will be easy I know; but even when she’s competing for the title of Gremlin or I’m literally up to my elbows in toddler turds, all it takes is her smile or one look into those eyes that are so like my own, and I remember how very worth it she is.

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About the Author

Morgan Armstad

Morgan Armstad is a part-time writer and waitress, as well as a full-time mom to her incredible daughter Skye. She loves to read, dance and eat Milano cookies. She graduated spring 2016 from the University of Montana in Missoula with a degree in journalism with a history minor. Morgan is currently working and writing at Mamalode magazine in Missoula and has written for the website VProud.

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