“When you have that baby, you’re going to have more appreciation for your mother than you’ve ever had in your entire life.”
These words from a stranger have been ringing in my ears almost every day since my daughter arrived. I remember nursing her upstairs in our bedroom in the first few weeks she was home, not being able to detach her from me without her screaming, thinking we may have to sit like this for the rest of our lives, feeling completely exhausted and overwhelmed, an alien visiting my own life and realizing, huh, this is what my mom did for me.
This is what that lady meant.
When I wash the dishes, my daughter clinging to my legs and I find I’m in a weird sort of tug of war with a toddler and my pants; when she repeated her first swear word one second after I repeated my seven-millionth swear word; when she projectile vomited down the front of my shirt, and then on her blankie; when I scooped her off the ground after an unfortunate collision with the dog that resulted in wails, tears and little puddles of blood coming out her nostrils; when I’m on the phone and she suddenly remembers that she absolutely must sit at the table and draw on my notepad with a pen and then another pen for her other hand….
When I rock her to sleep and she lifts her head up off my shoulder just to give me a kiss.
When I see her rock her baby doll the same way.
When I crawl into bed at the end of the day, my back aching from a day filled with bending over, picking up, dancing, playing, showing, redirecting and all the wiping and washing, I close my eyes and think, yes.
This is it.
This is what it takes to be a mother.
I waited a long time to find out and here I am, finding out every day that it’s much more than patience people.
I didn’t know it before her. I thought that’s all it really was. But motherhood is patience on a pretty decent dose of steroids.
Patience plus the light heartedness it takes to sing the ABCs in a frog voice for the seventy-fourth time because it makes her laugh.
Patience plus a constitution of steal that can mop up puddles of toddler-vomit off the floor and out from the inside of your bra and still find the leftover chicken nuggets on her highchair appetizing.
Patience plus the persistence to continue to explain that potties are for sitting on, not for putting feet in.
Patience plus innovation. Patience plus tenderness and then patience plus sternness. Patience plus the confidence it takes to follow your gut when you know something isn’t right.
Patience plus physical strength.
Who knew motherhood took such physical strength?
Well, I suppose my mother did. She would have told me if I had asked her. But that’s the thing, until we’re looking down the parenthood paths ourselves, we never seem to ask our own mothers what it’s been like for them.
And by that time, if you have a good momma, they are so gaga over the grandkid or the thought of a grandkid it seems they might just lie to you to convince you that it’s way more snuggles than it is snot.
And then they’ll tell you that it went so fast, they hardly remember.
Yes. Yes it did you’ll think, looking at your mother laughing at your one-year-old as she tests her balancing skills on the armrest of the couch, appreciating her more than you ever have in your entire life.