Welcome to the 17th edition of the #beingamother project. I’m delighted to welcome Holly from TheFreethinkingMama for this instalment. From having a second chance at childhood, to being life’s biggest curveball; from envisioning the future to endless love, join with me now in following her contemplation of the meaning of motherhood…
When asked what it means to me being a mother, I had to pause before jumping right in. This is not a simple question, and it certainly doesn’t have a concrete answer. For working moms and SAHMs alike, being a mother has its ups and downs. At this moment, I am reflecting on the joys of parenthood as my 14 month old son cries in his crib for a few minutes before he falls asleep (he may not think he needs a nap, but Mama knows better…). So, what does it mean to be a Mama? Here goes nothin’….
Being a mother is life’s biggest curve ball. Every day is unpredictable, despite your best efforts to establish a routine. Will you be on time to LO’s play date, or will you be faced with a tired tot who spills Cheerios all over the floor (and then proceeds to eat them)? My guess is I will never again be perceived as the hyper-reliable, hyper-punctual, hyper-organized woman I once was…until the kids are off to college, anyway.
Being a mother is endless worrying. I find myself Googling every little idiosyncratic “symptom” my son has, which only further convinces me of my stalwart knowledge that he has autism, ebola, roseola, myopia, Tourette syndrome, a speech delay, a concussion, chickenpox, celiac disease, or gosh, maybe just a cold. If you think all of my time is spent worrying about my tot’s health, you would be so wrong. Am I doing everything I possibly can to give my child the best life experiences, the best cognitive stimulation, the best nutrition, the best balance of love and discipline? These are only a few of the uncertainties that keep me up on a given night.
Being a mother is enjoying the little things. For me, being a SAHM is truly an amazing experience. But, because I don’t get the typical perks of an outside job (e.g., bonuses, raises, promotions, lunch breaks, intellectual conversations), I try to rely on those priceless little baby moments as daily motivation.
My son does not yet thank me for cleaning the cloth diapers, using homemade baby-safe cleaners, or coming up with creative vegetarian baby recipes. Maybe he never will…but, my “bonus” is his deep belly laugh when I make silly faces. My “promotion” is when he opens my hand to give me a book and sits in my lap for story time. My “raise” is when I hear him humming the first few notes of Bach’s Gavotte. My “lunch break” is getting a chance to use the bathroom in peace while baby naps. These are the things that keep me going every single day.
Being a mother is envisioning the future. From the short-term future of his afternoon nap, to the long-term future of his education, career, and future family, all of my decisions are based on the visualization of my son’s potential future. I try to picture how different scenarios will play out. Should I try for an early nap if we have a play date this afternoon, or will that backfire? When should I enroll him in a music class to improve his chances of learning and loving music? Should I pressure him to brush his teeth, or will that only make him hate it? Some might say that a large portion of my day is spent “daydreaming”, but I prefer to think of it as “visual strategizing”.
Being a mother is exhausting. In a word, being a mother is: coffee. I find myself ready to turn in at 9:30pm and not feeling remotely guilty for doing so. I cross my fingers that baby sleeps through the night (knowing the odds are never in my favor). When my tot was a little younger, I would stare hopelessly at the baby monitor when he cried in his crib and try to will him to sleep with my mind. I often find myself trying to superstitiously ensure a good night’s sleep with just the perfect pajamas, room temperature, bed sheets, bedtime book, white noise, and even positioning of baby’s lovey (in case you are wondering, no discernible combination ever makes much difference…).
Being a mother is a second chance at childhood. Somehow, being a mother is this magical combination of being a carefree kid again while being more responsible than you ever thought you would need to be as an adult. From rolling around on the floor to noticing the magic in life’s simplest wonders (ever notice how cool TV remotes are?), I love seeing the world through a fresh set of eyes. I never thought I could have so much fun swinging at the playground, splashing at the water park, or gazing at the aquarium. Plus, big adventures are even bigger when you see them through baby’s eyes. Can you imagine how they might perceive the Grand Canyon, Statue of Liberty, Colosseum, or Neuschwanstein Castle?
Most importantly, being a mother is unconditional love. Maybe it’s the minute you first hold your baby in your arms. Maybe it’s the first time your little one bumps their head and no one but you can make it better. Maybe it’s one of those rare moments baby stops long enough to snuggle for a minute. It will hit you like a freight train, how much you love this little person. How your heart aches when they are sad or in pain. Never did you think you could love someone so completely and unconditionally. And yet, here you are, dealing with that fragility every day.
You might think it makes you weak or vulnerable to love someone this much, but you will start to realize that your strength comes from that love, too. It’s what makes you able to carry on day in and day out. Picking up sippy cups 54 times a day; playing Ring Around the Rosies until you are nauseous; cleaning up peanut butter and banana mush; wiping dirty (and ticklish) tushies; breastfeeding until you are sore; reading the same board book five times in a row; finding the perfect sugar free, gluten free, sodium free, MSG free snacks that will only end up on the floor. That pure love is what gives this Mama the strength to face each day.
Peace and love,
To find out more about the #beingamother project, how you can take part, and to catch up on previous issues hop over here.