On Facebook recently, Iâve been keeping up with an old friendâs adventures as she gets ready to have her first baby. I find it particularly fascinating just because sheâs one of my younger friends and isnât fully aware of whatâs awaiting her in the next few weeks as she turns from pregnant into full-blown mother.
Boy, is she in for it!
Like me and every other mother I know, sheâs dutifully read up on all those books. I think we read them more out of fear of looking like bad mothers. At least I did. But no book can fully prepare you for being a mother. The role of a mother is one of the hardest jobs in the world, but unlike my old advertising job ages ago, it is intensely rewarding, despite the lack of sleep.
So, what does it mean to be a mother? Hereâs my take on it.
Youâll never love anyone so much.
Ever. Itâs astounding how much love you feel for that tiny person. Itâs beyond comprehension until you feel it yourself.
Itâs the scariest feeling ever.
When they handed me my firstborn, if I hadnât been tethered to a catheter after an emergency c-section, I might have tried to run for it. Here was this wrinkly-looking thing that didnât look a thing like I expected. Thatâs who was kicking me! And then, utter panic at how I would ever take care of her.
And then itâs amazing.
It was panic and then my brain just said, âOh my Lord, I love her!â And just like that, I did. I still panicked, but the love I felt took over.
If youâre crazy enough to go through birthing again, itâs different.
I remember laying in the hospital bed, nursing my daughter and thinking, âIâm never doing this again. NEVER!â Three years later, there I was in the same position with my youngest daughter. Relying on my dad, I asked him how you can love your next child the same and he said, âYou canât love them the same. You love them just as much but in a different way.â
It was something that didnât make sense until I was able to get out of the hospital bed finally (another c-section, this time planned). Holding her, I suddenly felt a jolt of joy and love from deep down, like a section of my heart that had been previously closed off, had opened. Ever since Iâve found the love for both my daughters truly has no bounds.
Then, they get bigger.
Blink and honestly, youâre going to miss it. Write down the funny things they say and better yet, post them to your Facebook page so youâll be reminded about them every year. Take tons of photos because your kids change so much over the first few years of their lives. My eldest is now 7 and Facebook reminds me daily of photos from 7 years ago when she was just a baby. Itâs amazing to think she was once a little bitty thing that cried all the time. Now she makes her own jelly sandwiches after she gets home from school and reads to her little sister.
Youâll never do it all right all the time.
Thereâs no such thing as the perfect mom. The only quality of a good mother that we should all have in common is loving our kids. Just like thereâs no one way to make eggs, thereâs no one way to raise your kids. Do it with kindness and love and youâre going to get through it. The reality is we scream when weâre overtired and under stress, when weâve asked nicely 20 times and no one (not even the husband) listens until steam shoots out our ears and our heads spin around on our necks.
And we can try to be their friends all weâd like but we have to be the bad guy here and there. You have to put your foot down somewhere or else theyâll never learn the disappointments of the world.
And speaking of disappointmentsâ¦
Teaching your kids about them is so important. Weâre looking at a world where people were afraid to tell their kids ânoâ and shielded them from disappointment. Life is disappointing though. Letting your kids dig that lesson now is going to make them happier adults.
You feel their pains. All of them.
And yet, somehow your inner panic silences and you hold them tight and make everything feel alright again, just like your own mom did. My eldest split her lip when both kids were jumping on the bed (after Iâd warned them multiple times). Somehow, I managed not to freak out and administer first aid. It was almost like an out-of-body experience. I saw myself from the outside like a good mother.
Being a good mother is easy.
Itâs the hardest job in the world, so how is it easy? Because that love in your heart, the kind of love that spans infinity, sees you through.
You go without sleep to watch over them when theyâre sick. You get up early to pack lunches just right. You run after them out the door to hand them a jacket when itâs cold. You go without things you would love to have, like a new handbag or shoes, just to give them what they want. You give them the last piece of food on the table even though you havenât eaten enough yourself because they loved what you cooked and wanted more. You read to them until their little eyes flutter closed and they drift off to sleep. You do these things because loving them is easy. The ups and downs and exhaustion of keeping upâ¦thatâs whatâs hard.
So, go ahead and read everything about being a mom. Then come back to this in 5 years and laugh at all the things you never knew that totally caught you by surprise.