This post has been sitting in my draft pile for a month. I’ve been debating whether or not to post it, since I worry what other people may think, and that they might judge me (and, consider yourself forewarned: it’s not funny! It’s serious! Which is boring, I avoid seriousness, but even I have my occasional reflective moments).
But I’ve decided that despite the un-funniness and potential judgy-judgers, it’s worth posting, if only because I know other moms secretly feel the same way and may be reassured knowing they’re not the only ones. Also, because as I grow as a person, I have decided to not be ashamed about my feelings but just acknowledge them and understand them as best I can. I am not in control of my feelings; I am in control of my actions. And maybe there is even more honor in doing the right, loving thing when you don’t feel like it.
So for all you parents out there who may be like me, and for my 23 year old self who spent years feeling guilty, for that young woman who struggled to forgive herself for not experiencing the Hollywood moment she expected when her first child was born (who out there really has?) Here it is:
When Stephen was born, I felt bad because I didn’t think I felt “right” about him. Don’t get me wrong, I loved him–I nursed him every 2 hours, I got up to take care of him around the clock, I wore him in my sling when he was fussy, I kept him clean and as happy as possible–I loved him, but I confess, I didn’t “just love being a mommy” and I sure as heck didn’t “cherish every moment.”
When I was still in the hospital after Stephen’s traumatic delivery, someone from work said, “I know it was really tough, but when you look into his little face, you just know it’s all worth it, don’t you?”
“Oh yes, absolutely,” I readily agreed, promptly providing the “right answer.” But the question stabbed at my heart, and reminded me that I didn’t feel that way…I didn’t feel anything but apathetic about him until he was four months old. Six years of perspective later, I definitely feel it was all worth it, but I didn’t feel that way that for a long time after he was born.
When Adrian came around, I felt…or rather didn’t feel the same way. I loved him, but not the way I saw other mothers “loving” their babies. My reflections have been that I am not a person who falls in love, but a person who grows in love. Eric and I were friends for years before we “fell” in love. I didn’t instantly love him, and I haven’t instantly gooshed over my children (I won’t say “love,” because I did love them, I DID everything I could for them (and I believe love is action, not feeling), I just didn’t feel the falling-in-love love I expected to).
And now that the twins are 6 months old, I am getting there. I get warm fuzzies when they smile at me and reach their little arms toward me to get picked up (though not necessarily at 3:30 am). I am starting to feel like Stephen, who said, “These babies are so cute it makes my eyes water!”
Mother love is not teenage butterflies or warm fuzzies. Mother love is fierce, unrelenting, giving and giving and giving. Mother love means you would step in front of a bus to save your child instantly, without thinking about it at all. Mother love is getting up every two hours all night long to nurse twins because that is what’s best for them. Mother love is fighting for your child, homework help, reading “Hop on Pop” ten billion times, eating cold dinner because you were too busy serving to eat, stretch marks, kissing boo-boos, cleaning spills, changing wet sheets at night, and jumping up and down with excitement at the planes, trains, and lights that thrill your son.
I have always loved my sons with mother love; my feelings have and will change over the years, but I will always love my sons with the ferocity of mother love.