Monday, 14 September 2015

Motherhood Isn't About Me, But...

So often during the day I write these beautiful posts in my head, with perfectly curated words and gorgeous turns of phrase (ha! Or so I think) but by the time I shuffle J into my husband’s arms and sit down in front of the computer, all my words have floated away. On a good day, I find stilted words instead.

In the months before I gave birth, I tried to prepare myself for motherhood. I told myself that it wouldn’t be about me anymore—that motherhood would be all about whatever my baby needed. I failed miserably in my preparation, of course. I’m still a selfish, normal human. But what I didn’t get until I held my babe in my arms—what I still don’t fully understand—is that while motherhood may not be about me, being baby J’s mama very much is. And that part is harder for this introverted gal than I ever would have expected.

It’s about me when he’s over tired and only my breast will do. It’s about me when he’s been away from me in his dad’s arms for a few hours and his whole face lights up when he sees me. It’s about me when there’s a stranger in the room and he’s not sure if he should be afraid. And it’s about me when he’s learning some new skill and he needs to know I think he’s really awesome.

I’m pretty sure that we all want to be loved. I love that he loves me—that I am so important to him. But I never thought it would be so exhausting, so draining. I never thought that being needed—that his need for me to simply be me—would demand so much growth in selflessness.

It’s this weird paradox, motherhood. It’s about me, but it’s all about him. It’s about him, but it’s all about me. I feel so little, but to him I’m the world. I beg for a break, but I’m incomplete when we’re apart. He brings out my worst and inspires my best. I want nothing more than to be his mom, yet sometimes I want to run away forever and be anything but.

The other day, I found myself intent on finishing the suck pads for our new Tula, ignoring him while he whined for a diaper change. It was all for him, but of course it was really all about me. Likewise when I tidy the nursery while he smiles hopefully at my turned back, or fold the baby laundry while ignoring him in my wrap. It’s so easy to martyr myself for myself, and so much harder to be present for him. But those grins, that unreserved love... I get a glimpse of heaven sometimes.

Sometimes as J’s mom, my heart breaks when I hand him toys  and things, and all he wants is his mama, and all his mama wants is to retreat into her books (so often books on parenting, no less!) and her toys (sewing and knitting and video games, oh my!) and her crappy reality TV (I’m rooting for Gabby on SYTYCD, and Derek on MasterChef, and the wrestlers on The Amazing Race Canada, and I don’t much like Vanessa but I think she should win BB17, and when does the next season of Survivor start, anyway?!). My heart breaks that J still manages to prefer people over objects, yet the person he wants most just wants to sink into oblivion.

But sometimes as J’s mom, I want to love myself a little harder and a little better, because he is a pretty neat kid and he loves me, and he wants me, and he thinks I am just fantastic, and I don’t ever want to make him think he’s wrong about that (and given that he’s a pretty neat kid, he just might be right). I want to love myself a little harder and a little better so I can give him the world, but also because he helps me to see myself a little more clearly—both what I am, and what I could be. And I want to treat myself a little more gently because being J’s mom is hard. Being anyone’s mom is hard. And I love him, and more often than not I do my very best for him, and maybe on days when I don’t (can’t?) do my very best it’s because I haven’t loved myself well enough anyway.

Can anyone relate?

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