When we made this plan to write about motherhood for the week before Mother’s Day, I was stoked. EASY post. I am a mother. A full-time-nothing-else-all-day-long-but-a-mother. What else would I ever write about?
And then I started to really think about it.
And all I could come up with was the usual stuff that I write about. The crap about motherhood. The hardness of motherhood. The complete unfairness of my motherhood journey. The way that motherhood has exploded my life, identity, world, body, mind, soul and perspective until I’m unrecognizable to myself.
And I thought, how depressing.
I did this. I had babies. On purpose. Heck, I had more than one baby. On purpose. So why am I constantly dwelling on the ugliness of this highly marketed, highly edited, highly misleading role?
Because for me, those parts, the parts that no one talks about, the parts you hide from poor, unsuspecting pregnant women, were the only parts that I could focus on.
So, why did I do this more than once? Why am I such a glutton for punishment? And why am I not alone in my craziness (to be a mom, not just my medicated, therapy-treated craziness)? Why are their billions of moms in the world and more being made and remade every single minute of the day (a quick Google tells me that a baby, and therefore a mom, is born (or reborn) 300 times in a minute)?
Because being a mom is kind of awesome. And not just kind of. It kicks ass.
For my Mother’s Day post, I thought I would give you my top ten list of why motherhood just might be the best job on the planet (you know, so all the pregnant or wanting-to-be pregnant people can breathe a sigh of relief).
1. You get snuggled. A lot. Babies, toddlers, and young children (which is as high as I’ve gotten so far) are great snugglers. They give the best hugs. They lay right on top of you without inhibition. They treat you like a Barcalounger, with limbs everywhere, their heads tucked under your chin, and their heat and yours keeping the world warm. They are the sweetest when they want to snuggle. And some days, the fact that my babies want to still snuggle with me makes me feel like I must be doing something right among all of the things I’m sure I’m messing up.
2. You get to be somebody’s everything. And not in a small way. In a BIG way. You’re the one they want when they need something. You’re the one who wins the opportunity more often than not to do their hair, kiss their ouches, fix their ears, hold their hand when they cross a street, help them with tricky buttons, stairs, colouring pages and sentences, be their protector when they’re scared of the invisible monsters or the very real dog, spider, giant Daddy who is chasing them. You are theirs in a way you’ve never been anyone’s ever before nor will be ever again. It makes you feel needed. Wanted. And powerful. Until they discover teachers and friends and other experts. But there is a window, however small, where you are the world. And that’s pretty cool.
3. You get told, “I love you” without agenda or prompting. This is probably one of the sweetest moments in my day, where one of the talking babies will come up to me, call my name, pull on my hand, grab my face between their hands, and say, “Mommy, I love you.” It makes my breath catch and stops the tasks that are running through my head into my feet just for that minute. There’s nothing like it.
4. You get a free pass to go to bed early. No, seriously. You’re not a wuss, you’re a freaking hardworking warrior who chases after crazy people, while juggling a job or a house or a yacht. It’s hard work, people, so do it. Go to bed early and embrace the fact that it’s still daylight out. You’ve earned it. I swear it.
5. You get a huge appreciation for sleep, hot food, and personal space. Related to points 1 and 4, this is solid proof that absence does indeed make the heart grow fonder. I can’t remember the last time I had a decent night’s sleep…or uninterrupted sleep…or sleep that left me feeling refreshed in the morning (Is there such a thing? Or is this again some awful marketing ploy?). Hot food is similar – if I don’t want to eat my meals cold, I’m shoving burning hot lava food into my mouth before the baby/toddler/kindergartner decides to start demanding things. Better to just let it get cold and suck it up. And personal space is a laugh. I don’t go to the bathroom by myself. I don’t eat by myself. At this very moment, I’m typing with Lillian on my lap. My body is theirs, my space is theirs, my very being is theirs. And that’s just the way it is. So if ever I find myself in a hotel room at 6 p.m. with a steaming hot plate of food on my blanketed lap watching television by myself, I’m going to enjoy the CRAP out of it, I promise!
6. You get to witness pure awe and joy regularly. When’s the last time you felt genuinely happy? Laughed with your whole body until your face hurt? Found happiness in something as simple as a pair of shoes or some stickers? Well, I get to watch people experience pure feelings every single day. And the best ones, by far, are the moments when something ridiculous makes them laugh insanely…like ripping paper.
Or when they see you and they light up, or you make them smile for the first time (and capture it on camera, of course):
That kind of awesome honesty? Nothing like it in the world.
7. You get to be part of a family instantly. Whether you’re a step-mom, a single mom, a mom to a blended family, a married mom, moms in a same-sex family, a mom in an alien family or a mom in an extended family, you are part of a family. A family of you and your children and whoever else gets to share in your life. The moment you hold your baby, there is more than just you in your world. It’s a huge transformation to go from being a single person to being someone’s family and have them be your family. Just like that. Sure, it comes with drawbacks (see point 5), but the idea that no man is an island is never more true than when you’re a mother. You’re not an island. You’re queen of a country. Or maybe you are an island and have been invaded by an army of crazy people. All I know is that you are no longer alone. You have a person and they have you. And that’s pretty damn amazing.
8. You get to watch a person be born. I’m not talking about the birth part, because, really, how many mothers actually get to ‘watch’ that? Not many. I mean the person your children will grow up to be. You are there when they’re figuring out who they are, what they want to become, what they don’t want to have anything to do with. You get to see them fall in love with pieces of their world, learn how to navigate all of the social nonsense we throw at them, and come out the other side as their own human being. You and that child are linked by biology or necessity or choice and then you slowly become separate from them as they figure out how to exist without you all the time. It’s such an honour to bear witness to their coming of age. It’s a privilege that can be easily overlooked amid the potty training and the tantrums and the rebellion and the sickness and the daily grind, but the truth is all of those things lead us to the things that make our children the people they will eventually become.
9. You get to feel extremely accomplished. Not every minute and certainly not every day. Sometimes not every week. But there are moments, crazy-hard moments, where you look around and think, “I’m actually doing this. And I’m doing it well. I’m not screaming or crying. They’re not screaming and crying. I am a rock star.” These moments are when one kid is puking in the toilet while the other is peeing on the floor while the other is screaming because you’ve abandoned him on the floor to deal with everything else and you stop, after admiring the hair on the puking child, and calmly prioritize the tasks ahead of you and how much you’ll deserve the coffee at the end of the rainbow, and you have a moment of pride for the mother you have grown into. These moments are like a runner’s high for me – it was hard, it was a slog, it sucks, not everyone can do it and not everyone does it, but you’re there and you’re doing it. Kick-ass, lady. KICK-ASS.
10. You get to feel voracious, boundless love for other people. There are very few things in this world where the things you offer, do, and feel for someone else are perks. Where you get to put your whole self out there, expose it to all the elements of your world and their world, to worry about every breath and interaction and event and moment, and love them so much you want to wrap them in bubble wrap and throw away the key, and it turns out that panicky, anxiety-ridden, exhausting feeling is the best feeling in the world. My love for my babies is like nothing else I’ve ever felt. It is what gets me out of bed in the mornings. It’s what made me get pregnant four times. It’s what makes me grab whichever head is closest and take a huge inhale of their hair. It’s what keeps me from tossing them all out the window and keeps me from running away from home. The love I have for my babies makes everything else worth it. They are the best thing in my life. Period. Stop. The end. They are and my heart is for them and that is all.
11. BONUS! You get a whole day devoted to you and all the awesome stuff you do. And seriously. It’s awesome. And you’re doing it. So take a bow, a handmade card, a questionably made breakfast in bed, and a bubble bath, because you are doing a great job and it’s your day.
Happy Mother’s Day!