I got away for a night last weekend. There was a bachelorette party in Collingwood at a cottage with a group of girls I didn’t really know that well but I had the opportunity to take a much needed little road trip with one of my besties, and we literally couldn’t remember the last time it happened. So. Long. Overdue.
Since becoming a mom I can sometimes feel like everything is in overdue mode. My eyebrow wax. My laundry. My last vegetable consumption. My pile of dishes. My list of books I need to read and even hair washing. MY hair of course…I mean I wouldn’t forget to wash the kids hair. Or would I?
I spent the better half of the day before our trip writing lists. So. Many. Lists. Schedule for child 1. Schedule for child 2. Meal plans. Meal Prep. Emergency contacts. To do lists. Packing lists. All of the lists. Oh, and of course I had to clean the house as best I could because I wouldn’t want my brother and sister in law to think that a house with 2 kids under 3 would look lived in would I?
I packed a bag with one set of clothes for the next day and one dress for the evening, plus one pair of heels for the evening and a limited toiletries bag. My “weekender bag”, as the cool kids call it these days, was three quarters empty. You see, over the last 3 years I have become accustomed to packing for myself less and less. It’s been all about more room for spare children’s outfits, bottles, emergency snacks, soothers, toys, disinfectant wipes, booger wipes, bum wipes, all the wipes, and all the things for all the children. Actually only 2 children, but sometimes it feels like I am packing for an entire class of children to go camping for the summer on Lake Louise. Subsequently I’ve been packing less “me” things; less chapstick, less hand cream (what even is that anymore?), less hair brushes, less emergency make up, less, less less.
Anyway, I found more clothes, more “me” snacks, more make-up, more hair products, an extra dress, and stuffed it in just because I could. How good did THAT feel? Quite.
I had been sick for the previous 4 days but we all know that 24 hours with a group of women I hardly know to which I have no responsibility and a BFF who prides herself on her cough and cold remedies is significantly easier than 24 hours with two small humans who depend and rely on me for literally everything in their day.
Hours later I found myself in a scalding hot hottub where I’m pretty sure I sustained 1st degree burns, but I stayed in because why? Lack of responsibilities and Sangria.
My friend and I were among only a few moms in a group of twelve girls.
“Ahhh, quiet”, we said.
“No mommy mommy mommy”, we said.
“It’s so great to have some adult time”, we said.
“It’s so nice not to be needed for a day”, we said.
And then, naturally, one of the girls (women?) says “so why would I want to have kids then?”, in the most genuine way she could have asked. And I realized in that moment that we’d been giving some kind of impression that we didn’t want our kids, or that that being a mother was some kind of negativity in our life that we needed to escape. It was completely our fault, and was completely false. So I gave a quick response which touched on the joy that my kids bring me, how much I love them, that parenting was hard, but it was worth it. How could I put into a few socially acceptable sentences what being a mother really meant to me?
How could I explain that becoming a mother was the best choice I ever made? How could I explain the depths of ache and depths of joy I get from watching my kids hurt and watching them grow every single day? How could I explain in such a short time that when I became a mom my entire world was flipped upside down, and I feel like I have become the truest version of myself in ways that I cannot put into words?
You see you can’t explain it. Many have tried, and haven’t we all failed? Words spoken to me by mothers who have come before me fell on deaf ears, ears that did not understand, ears that did not believe before I was a mother. And yet when I held my girl in my arms for the first time it just made sense. The world made sense.
When I was pregnant I was terrified that I would not be “motherly”, that I couldn’t put my child’s needs above my own, that I would not be able to empathize, that I would not be able to foresee their needs. I was scared about what a child would do to my marriage. I was sad that our time as just “us” was ending and that it would never be the same again. I thought I might love my husband less. I was scared about the world we live in, and the people who would have influence in their lives. I was scared I would get it all wrong and everyone would know it.
When I think back I can just feel all the feelings. Pregnancy hormones don’t help of course, but they were legitimate fears. Family and friends would tell me “there is no love like a mothers”, “a mothers love is different from any other love”, “you’re going to love your baby from the moment you see it”. I just wasn’t so sure. I mean, I LOVED my husband. He made me complete. I’d never felt love in such a way before I met him and I could not imagine anything different. So how could I love someone who I had just met so deeply?
Well I’ll tell you what, I still don’t have the answer to that question, but you just CAN. The rush of emotion that washes over you the moment you meet your child is like nothing else I have experienced in my whole life. The love is deep, and strong, and raw, and real and ugly and beautiful and whole from the very start. And as the sleepless nights, and weary days pass, as the hormones subside and the newness of it all gently goes away you find your self slowly starting to identify with that term “mom”.
It’s not rainbows and sunshine. It’s hard. It’s exhausting, and not like “oh I’m just so tired” exhausting. I mean, like, I haven’t slept for more than 2 hours consecutively for months and the sleep deprivation is making resent people I hardly know tired. And it hurts. It hurts your body and it hurts your heart and it hurts your friendships and it hurt lots of bits you didn’t expect it to hurt, but you learn that that’s what being a mom is sometimes. And the really “hurty bits” don’t last that long. You think it’ll never end and then one day you can’t even remember the answer to the question “was she a good teether” and it amazes you that you could forget something that seemed so stressful and important at the time.
Of course that was just baby number one, who I thought was hard. Hah! If you know me well you know baby number 2 has given me a run for my money. He just cries a lot and doesn’t like much food and doesn’t like much sleep and it’s really taken a while to figure him out. The transition from 1 to 2 kids kicked me in the butt, real hard. I had postpartum depression, and that’s a whole other blog. I’ll just say that it took me to a pit that I learned many people live with for much longer and I never want to go back to. I’m slowly figuring it out. Little by little, I grow everyday and I learn and I love and make mistakes and now I just brush myself off and I do it all again the next day.
Being a mom is hard. Being relied on by a helpless little person who not only needs you to meet their physical needs but is reliant on you to become a person of integrity and a contributor to society is a huge responsibility. But more than that, it’s an honor and a privilege. I wish it didn’t sound so cliché.
That I get to watch my flesh and blood smile for the first time in their existence.
That I get to be the one and only human who can soothe the hurt of another person.
That I get to be wanted and needed by someone so naturally, and so genuinely.
That I get to see the world through the eyes of my child.
That I get to hold little hands and lead them where I choose.
That I get to hear the words whispered “I love you mommy” and it be about me.
That I get to hear the giggles, all the giggles.
That I get to wipe the tears.
That I get to do piggy backs, and Easter Egg hunts, and cookie baking and the Macarena with the cutest children of all time.
That I get to nurse, and nourish and feed my child with my own body (and not with it!).
That I get to be there for the joys and sorrows, the wins and losses, the hospital trips and the birthday parties and I get to contribute to all of it with everything that I am.
There’s so much responsibility and yet there is so, so much privilege.
You know… I feel all the feels since becoming a mom. I can’t watch the news, a music video, read a book, meet a new person with a story or look at another child suffering without bursting into tears. Oh “how sad” you might think. But you know what, I just feel like this was me all along, just waiting to come to the surface. We’re meant to be connected as humans. We’re meant to compassionate, to feel, to love, to live in community. Becoming a mom has made me feel connected to every other person in the world in a way I never expected. Everyone on the planet has a mother, everyone is somebodies child.
And I’m in the stage in my life where I’m surrounded by moms, biological and adoptive, step and foster and so on. But I am also surrounded by women who choose not to, or are not able to be mothers. I’m not downplaying those women. I have love and respect for everyone’s role in our world. You can be fulfilled and live a life of purpose, a life worthy of respect and praise without being a mother, 100%. But for me, becoming a mother made me see who I really am. It made me dig deep and decide what’s important, to do away with the extras of life that didn’t bring me joy, and to add in the things that did. It made me not care what other people thought so much and it made me feel more love for everyone around me. It made me appreciate my “me” time so much more and it made me fall in love with my husband all over again. So to the girl in the hot tub, there you have it. I might have needed that night away but don’t doubt for a second that my family is the best part about my life.
Much love, Happy Mothers Day!