When I was pregnant everything made me cry.
On one particularly fateful afternoon I was out walking when I came across a poster for a missing dog in the neighbourhood. By the time I had made it home I was ugly bawling, crying so hard I was gasping for breath. When Jon asked me what was wrong I started into a long winded diatribe: a family is missing their dog, it’s the saddest thing ever, what if the dog is badly injured, what if the dog was stolen, what if the dog is dead, what if they never find him, how will they go on, etc. There was a long pause from Jon who decided not to reply and give me a hug instead.
In retrospect I recognize I was full of pregnancy hormones, but I was also at the beginning of understanding the depth of love I felt for my child, as well as the endless, relentless worrying that accompanied my early days of motherhood. What if she is too cold? What if she is too hot? What if she is hungry? Why won’t she sleep? Is she sleeping too long? Is all that spit up normal? Is this bassinet safe? Why does her little head keep turning when I lay her down? What if I don’t feed her enough and she doesn’t develop properly and doesn’t have any manners and becomes a bully and never graduates from high school and crashes my car and becomes and addict and on, and on, and on. I would often look at the tiny little creature we had been entrusted to love, care for, provide for, support and guide through life and think how come this doesn’t come with a manual?
My own journey into motherhood is just about five months along and I recognize there is so much more for me to learn, both about myself in this role and the discovery of who my daughter is. Any introspection I have attempted in regards to my new role as a mother have been thwarted by the following (in no particular order): exhaustion, a crying infant, feeding an infant, bathing and caring for an infant, entertaining an infant, recovering from an emergency c-section, surviving postpartum depression and cobbling short hours of work together between the aforementioned items on the list. I had a dreamy notion of motherhood fuelled by Instagram (damn you, #NewMom hashtag) and I was more than a little surprised to learn that being a new Mom wasn’t about lounging around in casual outfits with my hair blown out, drinking coffee while my newborn baby peacefully slept next to me. New Mom for me was forgetting what day of the week it was, try to remember when the last time I showered was and wonder if it was safe for me to drive a vehicle given my state of exhaustion. I went and systematically unfollowed every ‘Mom’ personality on Instagram. I couldn’t keep going thinking that everyones new motherhood experience was rosy when I was scraping by to survive each day.
On this, the eve of my first Mothers Day, I’ll admit I not only have no idea what I am doing, but I am constantly in fear that people will find out I’m a fraud who has no idea what I am doing. The more I consider it – and the more I share this thought with other Moms- I am met with similar nods and sentiments. For what is this role but a long journey of constantly figuring it out?
For this Mothers Day where I am actually, well, a mother, I find myself feeling a flow of emotion for the women in my life: love and appreciation for my Mom and Grandma(s), sadness for my husband and those who no longer have their mothers, my friends who are new moms, my friends about to become moms, my friends who are struggling to become mothers, my friends who have furry children, my friends with difficult relationships with their children or complicated relationships with their mothers.
I don’t know what I’m doing but I’m working on figuring it out. One day at a time.