Before I had my first child, I would try to envision what it would be like to be a mother. I would ask my friends with kids what it was like… and study how they interacted with their own children. Most often, because I didn’t know any better, I’d judge them. I would think, I’ll never do what they do. I’ll do things right… by the book. And every once in a while, one of those friends would notice the capricious look upon my face and say, “You just wait. You have NO idea what it’s going to be like.” I’d reluctantly take their advice as well as their books on childbirth, nursing and parenting and then lay on my bed in the fetal position, crying into the mattress. What the hell did I know about being a mother? Like most of you, I didn’t know much.
Now I have friends having babies, and I revel in their newfound sense of wonderment––the change of their bodies as they create this life inside of them. They want to know if I remember my cravings or how I felt during this/that trimester, and like the mothers who came before me, I regale them my own stories of chugging Tropicana straight from the carton, and some of the lesser maladies related to the “blessing” that is pregnancy. I can however tell them what I’ve done to this point, with my five and nearly-three year old. But there’s always another mother, one with far more experience than me who says, “You just wait until they start doing homework.” Or, “You just wait until they’re teenagers.” The list goes on and on––ever evolving.
For me, motherhood is a double sided mirror. One side is magnified, which illuminates all of my faults, and is a constant work in progress. The other side is normal, the lighting is soft, and I see a beauty that wasn’t there before. The two sides never meet. Hence, no perfection is ever reached. I certainly don’t feel any pressure to be perfect. Hell, I don’t even know what that means. But I do hope that I represent the “normal” side of that mirror to my children more often than the flawed one. To all of the new mothers out there with little babies, and to those who are expecting… you’re one of “us” now. You’ll soon be telling your own warrior stories of how you made it through your experiences and how you coped… and they will be unique to you. They will be terrifying, beautiful, hilarious, and joyous. You just wait… motherhood is amazing.