My first Mother's day
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This Sunday will be my first mother's day. As you may know, I had a gorgeous, glorious, amazing son six weeks ago on March 31st. (Of course I'm biased, but then again, so are my son's various grandparents as is his father. But I digress.) This first mother's day, for me, is not only the most special, but also perhaps the most important, and for reasons I am only beginning to understand fully.
It's an amazing thing, being a mother. Honestly, I always liked children, always wanted them, always envisioned myself surrounded by them. I also thought about how hard it would be, how demanding, what sort of sacrifice might be involved. It took years before I was emotionally ready for a baby, much to the dismay of my biological clock. Tick, tick, tick was all it ever said to me. Time is passing you by, girl, and you'd better get on with it.
Then I tried to get pregnant. Seemed like it took forever. For the first time in my life I thought it was a real possibility that I had waited too long, that I never would be a mother. The thought was truly, utterly heartbreaking. I just assumed we'd stop using birth control and I'd get preggers asap. As many of our readers know it doesn't necessarily work out that way.
When I finally did become pregnant it was much more than a sigh of relief. I felt I was on the journey I was always meant to take, the one destined for me. In fact, my pregnancy went so well that I felt like for the first time in my whole life I was doing something right. It felt great. Sure, I was scared and nervous about screwing things up, was perhaps overly cautious about my choices and activities, but ultimately, somehow, I knew everything was going to be all right.
Then, on my due date, my child arrived. Amazingly, only around 5% of babies are born on their due date. Given that statistic (which may or may not be true, so take it with a grain of salt if you like) and the fact that I am a very deadline-oriented person, I rationalized that arriving promptly on schedule--and early in the morning to boot!--was my son's first mother's day gift to me.
My son instantly became the center of my universe. No mystery there--aside from all the love and adoration and just staring at the magical miracle that is a baby there is the diaper changing and constant feeding and all that other good stuff we wander through in a daze in the first few weeks. And that's the easy part.
No one told me, or could have prepared me, for how I would feel about my son. It's like a religious experience. No one, not even my own mother, who tried, could have informed me of what just watching him sleep would do to me, or how it would color my perspective on parents and children in general. I've always liked kids and being around them. I've seen thousands of families throughout time but thought little about them other than as a concept. Now that I am a member of the motherhood club I see that children are gorgeous, miracles on earth, perfect and precious (even with their imperfections). Maybe that sounds naive and silly to you, but I really feel that way. Could be the post-pregnancy hormones talking, but I think it's more than that. Motherhood just does something to your soul.
As beautiful as they are, children are also vulnerable, in need of constant protection and comfort and love. It scares me to no end to think about how vulnerable my son is. My mother, parent to 32-year old me, still feels that way. This knowledge doesn't make me feel any better! I know now, as I did when he was in my womb, that once he was out I would spend the rest of my life trying to protect my son, to take care of him, to cherish and love him, and to steer him in the right direction. It's a tall order.
Which brings me to my point about why this mother's day is so important to me, and why it is the most special of all mother's days. As tall an order as the above is, it's one I want to fill, and in the deepest part of my heart have always wanted to fill. And I want to do it right.
This mother's day I am still the mother I always wanted to be, not the one I will eventually become. Right now life is all about possibilities and opportunities for me and my son, not about the choices I made, the bed I have to lie in or about how I'd have done things differently.
This mother's day is ground zero for motherhood for me. It's a wonderful and scary place. Only now that I am an adult am I beginning to really understand the choices my mother made, choices that, perhaps, when they were affecting me and I had little say in them, I may not have agreed with. The more I think about those choices now the more I agree with my mother, the more I am able to see things from her perspective, and the more like her I aspire to be.
Next year I'll have a one-year old who's already been shaped by my choices, both big and small. The three of us--my husband, my child and I--will already be on the journey that is parenthood. Many of the possibilities that existed before we took our first steps together will have given way to realities. Like with any trip, I'm a little anxious but more excited about it than anything. This journey, after all, is the one I've always wanted to take, always felt I was meant to take.
Honestly, the days leading up to this mother's day have been rather frenzied. In fact, despite having a baby in my arms most of the day (and night!), until I sat down to write this post it really hadn't sunk in that I am now, and always will be, someone's mother. And I couldn't possibly be happier.