What does Motherhood mean to you?
Somebody asked me this last week, a fellow blogger during a questions and answer post. And put on the spot, in the spur of the moment, I couldn’t even think of how to put it into words. There are too many to even contemplate, too many things, too many moments, too many emotions. And I thought about my answer afterwards, about all of the things that I could have said, that I should have said, had I stopped to think it through.
I would have said that motherhood means waiting. It’s the agonising wait, praying for those two, elusive, faint lines to appear on a pregnancy test, after all of those months of disappointment. It’s the indescribable feeling of pure joy, and terror, at how, in nine months from now, your whole life is about to change. It’s the huge sigh of relief when you hear the heart beat for the first time, when you see that grainy imagine on a scan and allow yourself to imagine what he or she will be like, what your life will be like with them in it. It’s about making choices, about names, birth plans, pain relief, feeding methods. It’s the feeling of panic when you realise that after nine long months, you’re actually in labour, that the agonising ordeal of giving birth is finally here. It’s puffing on the gas and air as though your life depends on it, pushing away your partners hands when he insists on rubbing your back, resisting the urge to throttle him for putting you in this predicament in the first place, screaming at the midwife, “I can’t do this!”, “Give me an epidural!!”, when you feel like giving up. And then there they are, all tiny and pink, all new and perfect, laying on your chest, and it’s all about that moment, when you take their little hand in yours and you know, without a shadow of a doubt, that they were worth it all, that you will never love anyone so strongly, so fiercely, as you do right there and then.
Motherhood is about surprise. It’s the moment when you take them home and realise that you might as well throw the baby manual out of the window, that your baby has individual wants and needs and the only person who can figure that out is you. It’s about a baby, who screams and cries, and somehow you must find a way to differentiate between a hungry cry, a tired cry, a dirty nappy cry, a cry simply for the sake of crying. It’s the shock of those nappies, more nappies than you could have ever imagined, the explosive diarrhea, right up to their neck, poo under your fingernails, streams of wee hitting you full pelt in the face. It’s about the vomit, full on projectile vomit, on every clean item of clothing you will ever wear, on your beautiful carpets, your walls, your once pristine car. It’s about feeding, two, three, four, five in the morning, when you look, and feel, like a zombie, rocking their basket back and forth, with your foot outstretched from the covers, praying to God that they will sleep, even just for ten minutes.
Motherhood is about pride. The first time that they roll, sit, crawl, take their first wobbly steps towards your open arms. It’s the moment when they utter their first word, when they shout for you, Mama, when they give you the biggest, drooliest, open mouthed kiss and you don’t even flinch. It’s the laughter, the giggles, the look on their beautiful little face when their eyes light up at the sound of your voice, when no matter how tired you are, how stressed out you feel, you know that you are the most important person in their whole life, that they depend on you, whole heartedly. It’s the moment when you catch a glimpse of them from a distance, the way that their hair falls in soft curls against their neck, the flush of their cheeks, the twinkle in their eye, the way in which their beauty takes your breath away, when you ask yourself for the thousandth time, how did I ever create something as so very beautiful as you?
Motherhood is about worry. It’s the nights spent sleeping on their bedroom floor when they’re poorly, lying awake just to check that they are still breathing, sitting bolt upright with every cough, every sneeze, every whimper. It’s the nights where you drive like a maniac to the emergency doctor, spiking a temperature you just can’t bring down, the days sat by their bedside on a busy children’s ward, watching their little chest rise and fall. It’s wiping snotty noses, bloody knees, kissing bumps and bruises better, stroking their little faces, administering calpol, antibiotics, wishing you could just switch places and take their pain away.
Motherhood is about patience. It’s biting your tongue when they stumble over finding the right words, when they take an hour just to eat a few mouthfuls, insisting on using their own knife and fork, however messy that may be. It’s silently counting to ten when it takes them forever to put on their shoes, button up their coats, reminding yourself that it’s not the end of the world to be late, for the fourth time running that week. It’s giving in and watching Cbeebies, even when the sight of Mr Tumble makes you want to gouge your own eyes out, when you fail to see the attraction of watching Daddy Pig and his big fat tummy for the nineteenth time that day. It’s watching Frozen on repeat, humouring them by singing your part during the Anna and Elsa duet, it’s playing Hungry Hippos for the five millionth time since Christmas, and still always letting them win. It’s stepping on Lego, drinking pretend cups of tea, blowing out candles on a make believe birthday cake whilst opening a Mega Blocks mash up, wrapped in a tea towel.
Motherhood is about letting go. It’s taking them to their first day at pre-school, to primary school, waving them goodbye and feeling as though your heart may break. It’s the silent tears as you walk away, the desperate sobs on the drive home, the harsh realisation that your baby is growing up, that time is passing by so fast. It’s being half an hour early to pick them up that night, craning through the window to catch a glimpse of your baby, praying that they will have been okay. It’s that feeling of relief when they rush into your arms at the end of the day, smelling of play-dough and raspberry rock buns, telling you how much they have missed you, presenting you with a splodgy, soggy, wet, painting and placing their little hand in yours.
Motherhood is about love. The kind of love that is unexplainable, unconditional, immeasurable. It’s the cuddles, the kisses, the moments that make your heart beat out of your chest. It’s a hand made Mothers Day Card, a wilted bunch of daisies in a grubby hand, a tired little face kissing you goodnight, the moments when they turn to you and tell you, “Mummy, I will love you forever!”.
Motherhood is about being a Mummy, a carer, a cleaner, a chef. It’s being a nurse, a teacher, a referee, a taxi driver. It’s being the Tooth Fairy, Father Christmas, the Easter Bunny, a hundred different roles, a thousand different things. It’s juggling all of your balls in the air at the same time, tearing yourself in two, making sacrifices, doubting your abilities, your strength, your sanity. It’s the laughter, the cries, the relentless screams, the moments when you look at yourself and wonder, when did I turn into my own Mother? It’s a lifetime of moments, a million different emotions and the biggest, craziest, wildest rollercoaster that you will ever be a part of.
But it’s this, all of this, that makes Motherhood the most amazing, rewarding, unique experience that it is. To use one of my favourite quotes of all time, “Nobody said it would be easy, they just promised it would be worth it.”
And if you are wondering what my answer was, when asked “What does Motherhood mean to you?, I had simply replied, “Everything.”