Published in Fried Eye on May 15, 2014
Yes I am a mother.
I became one the day I got to know that I would be holding a baby in my arms in nine months’ time. And while I spent the nine months preparing myself for what was to come, nothing could have prepared me for the overwhelming gamut of emotions that pulsed through my being when I held her in my arms for the very first time and she looked up at me with those big wide eyes.
I am a mother, which means I am at the same time the weakest and strongest person to walk on the surface of this earth. I can, and have survived on little to no sleep, and gone hours without food and water. My arms are used to carrying a baby who is steadily growing heavier (God bless her), for hours, and I can even climb stairs or vacuum the place with a baby strapped to my chest. But show me a photo of a sick baby, and I will bawl my eyes out. Forget a sick baby, show me a Britain’s Got Talent video about two boys singing about bullying and I will sob like, oh well, like only a mother can. I am an ooey-gooey melting pool of love, and shamelessly vulnerable when it comes to my baby. But do something remotely harmful to my baby, like maybe blow the tiniest puff of cigarette smoke in her direction and I will shame you till you rue the day you thought smoking was a good idea.
Yes, I am a mother. Which means my days are spent feeling a wide range of emotions, ranging from basking in motherly glow to wildly ecstatic to “Why-did-I-think-this-was-a-good-idea”, the last one normally occurring at times when after rocking baby for thirty minutes she finally falls asleep and I put her in the crib only to find her wide awake five minutes later. Or when it is four in the morning and she refuses to sleep anywhere but in my arms. Or I have to shower with an audience because she has a terrible case of separation anxiety and will scream if I even left the room for a minute. But there are times when I wake up to a giggling baby, or when she coos at me while feeding her, or when she belly laughs at my silly faces, or even when I snuggle close to her and sniff her and get a whiff of that perfect baby smell, and all those foggy sleep-deprived doubts are cleared away like sunshine after a bout of rain.
Of course I am a mother. I am a constant worrier. And it started way before she was actually in my arms. I remember the first night at home when I was taking care of a brand new wrinkly baby with her umbilical cord stump still in place, and I remember how I was worried about every single thing. All night I walked about the house while holding her because I was scared I would fall asleep while holding her and she would fall down! I changed her outfits as though I was handling porcelain, and heaven knows how many times I wondered aloud about how many times she should be peeing and pooping. I worry now about if she’s getting enough sleep, or if she’s sleeping too much; even if she’s awake for too long or not enough. I constantly worry about her weight gain, and if she’s meeting her milestones at the right time. And now that she’s rolling over, I worry about the day she starts crawling and how I’d have to baby proof the apartment and how I could possibly postpone that imminent first ouchie. Well, basically if there’s something worth thinking about, you bet I am already worrying about it.
Sigh! I am a mother. I haven’t gotten a hair cut since the day she was born, but with the postpartum hair-loss I think I will go bald before I get a chance to get one. I definitely need to get my eyebrows shaped, my arms waxed, and do something, anything about all that hormonal acne, but when all my “outings” are comprised of short trips to the grocery store, I don’t think it matters. I really, really need to get back in shape or learn how to dress smarter, but with a cute baby strapped on the baby carrier everywhere I go, I don’t think the focus is on my flabby tummy anyway. I seriously need to get fancier clothes in my new size, but when all I can see in a dress or top is how nursing friendly it is, the purpose is lost anyway. All I know is, to my baby girl, I am the most beautiful creature in the world, and that’s the knowledge I hold on to.
I am a mother. I am liquid love. I am fierce and I am proud. I am possessive and all-giving. I am a human pacifier. I stay at home all day long and yet don’t get a minute for myself. I am not exactly “employable” but I have perfected the skill of finding a way to do anything and everything while holding a baby. I am nurturing. I am sleep deprived. I am a bundle of raw emotions. I am scarred; I earned my tiger stripes. I am the master of baby talk and endless lullabies. I am patient and yet frayed. I am a living walking breathing epitome of contrasts. I am the luckiest being ever.