I used to be one of those people: the ones who knew everything about motherhood and parenting without being a mother and a parent. In fact, I remember – with lots of shame and regret – that I once wrote a scathing piece about crying babies in churches, a post where I literally threatened to throw both the baby and its mother out of the church, although I wrote that sarcastically. But still … Now that I am a mom, I look back at my non-mom self with pursed lips, judgmental eyes, and a dramatic head tilt. I used to think I had it all figured out. It was just parenting; how hard could it be?
Note to self: Don’t ever, ever ask how hard anything can be? Because the answer is almost always A LOT HARDER THAN YOU THINK. VERY, VERY HARD!!! Also, don’t ever ask, what could possibly go wrong? Because the answer to this question is EVERYTHING.
I still don’t like crying babies in church, but I no longer feel the need to throw them out of the church (and before I started dropping Ada Verastic off in the kiddie church, I always took her out of the sanctuary when she started crying, mostly because I did not want to be judged the way I so harshly judged and misunderstood other moms).
But now anyway, instead of wanting to throw the baby out of the church, the sound of a crying baby instantly makes me want to jump up and go cuddle him/her. Sometimes, it makes my womb itch too. The world may have eight wonders, but nothing is half as wonderful or as magical or as innocent as a baby.
The day I became a mommy, my perspective changed on a lot of things. I began to look at mothers differently. I realized that all things being equal, no matter the race, age, level of education, nationality, tribe, or socioeconomic status, all moms have love for their children and want the best for them. I gained a new found love and respect for moms all over the world, but I especially marveled at my own mother and began to think of her and appreciate her in a way that I never had. Suddenly, I could swear she was a unicorn.
In the two years I have spent being a mommy to a real human being (not the imagined one I used to have before my baby came), I have discovered that everything I thought I knew about motherhood was theoretical and not practical. I have learned, for example, that no logical conversation can be had with a toddler who responds “No” to everything – even when what I’m saying does not warrant an answer. Like that time she sneezed and I said bless you, and she responded No. The inability to have a conversation with a toddler sounds like something that everyone would know naturally, but I know for a fact that not everyone knows this, and I know this because I was a person who did not know this – truly – before I became a mom.
Motherhood is not like using a new appliance, and that’s because a new appliance comes with a user manual. It tells you how to use it, how to clean it, and even how to troubleshoot it. Motherhood, on the other hand, is like going to IKEA and buying a never-before seen appliance that you had previously only read and heard of.
And this appliance – like almost everything else from IKEA – has to be set up and requires tools that you don’t have and don’t know how to use and there is no manual on how to fix it. The best you can do is seek advice from people who have used this appliance, but they can only tell you what they know based on their personal experience and their own customized appliance, which of course, is different from yours. They cannot help you set up the appliance, nor can they use it for you, so you do the best you can and hope that you do not completely destroy the appliance beyond redemption. And the whole time you are getting frustrated, you have to keep calm and not rip your hair out. That’s motherhood in one paragraph. Actually, two paragraphs.
Every day I learn something new about my baby, about motherhood, and about myself. For me, this is my biggest achievement in life. I cannot think of anything I’d ever do that will trump birthing a whole human being. Cheers to the journey of motherhood and to the mothers who make it so magical.
My Ada Verastic is two years old now, and I cannot believe it. It’s overwhelming sometimes as I watch her explore and express her personality, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything else in the world. And when I ask her to do something and she responds by saying, “Okay, mommy,” I almost faint every time. This is my child. Little Vera is someone’s mommy.
P.S. I’m still a virgin though.