Writing teachers and critics always say, "Write what you know." It makes sense, if you think about it. After all, I'm not going to write a dissertation on the history of bowling in the United States. Bowling doesn't even seem like a sport to me. I mean, you put on funny shoes. You roll a ball. You drink a beer. You sit down. Lather, rinse, repeat. That pretty much sums it up.
So here's what I do know:
Motherhood is hard. It's lonely, isolating, demeaning, and often mindless. (Get baby up. Change baby's diaper. Feed baby. Burp baby. Clean up baby's spit up. Repeat 12 times a day.) It's exhausting, inconvenient, messy, and smelly. It sucks to be elbow-deep in poop while wearing your last clean tee shirt, knowing that you won't be able to do laundry for at least an hour because someone will need something at this exact moment in time that only Mommy can provide. It sucks to realize that you have spit up in your already-greasy hair a half-hour before you're supposed to meet a friend for coffee for the first time in nearly a year. It sucks to watch your daughter cry because a mean girl called her stupid and ugly, and to know that no matter how many times you tell her she's beautiful and smart, you can't erase the pain of that one casually cruel remark.
Motherhood robs you of your sanity, your fashion sense, your personal space, and your dignity. It's hard to be dignified when 3,492 medical professionals have had their hands up your hoo-ha to determine if you're ready to push or not, or to have 12 different lactation consultants grab your boob and show you how to nurse. And if you've been able to pee alone since giving birth, let me know your secret. I lock the door, but they keep coming to it and banging on it. Even the pets want in on the action. It sucks to go from intelligent, well-spoken, well-dressed career woman to babbling moron in baggy maternity clothes (3 months postpartem) debating the merits of various types of pacifiers and diaper disposal systems and which stain removers get out that lovely yellow newborn poop.
Motherhood means the end of your life as you know it, the end of your marriage as you know it, and the end of your freedom as you know it. Motherhood means putting someone else's needs ahead of your own for years and years without being resentful. And it's hard to just pick up and go when you have to remember the diaper bag, car seat, pack and play, stroller, and oh, yeah, the baby. Hard to have sex whenever and wherever you like, because let's face it, we can't just shut off the mommy thing at a moment's notice.
And you know what? I wouldn't trade one single second of it. Because along with the wiping, dripping, babbling, drooling, and puking comes that indescribable feeling of holding your child in your arms for the first time. The bliss that comes from knowing that, for better or for worse, this baby is yours forever and ever and ever! That life-altering moment when you realize that THIS is what it's all about, that you would do, literally, absolutely anything to protect this little person in your arms. I know, with absolute certainty, that if something threatened my children, I'd be able to defend them to the death. My death, that is, because I would rather die than let anything happen to them. And motherhood leads to some of the best friendships of our lives, because motherhood, with its trials and tribulations, is about the universal, collective experiences of women from all walks of life. My best friends share my mommy experiences in a way that my husband cannot.
Motherhood is a journey that will take us outside of ourselves. It's hard, yes, the hardest thing I've ever done. But it's also the best thing I've ever done. I had no idea how much I could love someone until I met my children. Sure, I love my husband, but I'm almost certain there are things he could do that would change that love for him. But my kids? Never. There is nothing that could change the depth of my love for them. It grows stronger and deeper every day I know them.
And that is motherhood. Messy, inconvenient, exhausting, wonderful, rewarding, amazing, and never dull. We're making little people here. We're responsible for the future. We are mothers.
Slacker Mom Says...this is what I know: I plan to enjoy every minute with my children. Every year passes more and more quickly. I swear, I was JUST changing diapers, and now they're asking for privacy in the bathroom and their own email accounts. My friend Katie says that when her son is 15 and towers over her, she's going to remind him that his hand was once smaller than her pinky finger. It goes fast, so take lots of pictures and remind yourself what you already know: this is the best gig we'll ever get.