I am a planner. I like to be prepared. When I was pregnant, I read everything I could find about parenting. Every book, article, and blog I could get my hands on; I devoured them all. Somehow it made me feel as though I was ready to face motherhood head on. I was ready for breastfeeding, diaper changing, sleep schedules, and baby bathing. Yet as prepared as I was for motherhood; regardless of how many books I read or how many experts I talked to, there was just nothing that could prepare me for some aspects of my new life.
No one told me that being a mother would hurt...in so many ways. Tiny baby nails can do some serious damage, including torn corneas from little fingers finding their way into half closed eyes. Carrying four year-olds up and down the stairs when they aren’t feeling well - or let's admit it, when they just want to be carried - has left my back in a permanent spasm. The physical pain can be managed but the feeling that I’m left with when my child tells me I’m the worst mummy in the world pains me the most, even if the reason is that I won’t let them have a candy before dinner. I know that as my children grow into their own people and begin their journey away from me, pride will mix with the pain of losing a little bit of them with each passing year.
I have always been an emotional person but nothing could prepare me for the amount of tears I have shed since becoming a mother. I have cried loud, uncontrollable tears of pain as Mr. T laid struggling in an incubator. My body was rocked with sobs of relief when, after hours of surgery, the surgeon finally came out to let us know all went well. We cried together as I held him in my arms while doctors poked at him and he held onto me in fear. I have cried tears of joy when each of my babies grew into toddlers and learned to walk and talk. Though breastfeeding was a bit of a struggle for me, I cried when Ms. J weaned herself and no longer turned to me at night. When Mr. T. read to me for the first time and Ms. J. wrote me her first note, pride caused the tears to flow. Whenever I read a story of a parent losing their child or watching their child suffer in any way, I mourn with them and cry, feeling their heartache so deeply. Each and every time I feel as though I have cried all of my tears, motherhood overwhelms me once again and I learn that tears are something you never run out of.
All my pre-child reading didn't prepare me for the strength I would gain as soon as my kids were born. After 26 hours of labour I felt like superwoman! I didn't do anything different from what millions of women do each and every day yet I felt so powerful. I mean I grew a human in my body...twice! I can carry a 46 pound six year-old because he hurt his foot. I can pick up a four year-old and pull her right out of that tiny front seat in a shopping cart, even when she's trying with all her might to stay right in that cart. The physical strength is nothing; having kids helped me find my voice. Suddenly I stopped caring what people think of me, I don't feel the same intense need to please anyone but myself and my kids. Is the fact that my baby is crying bothering you? So sorry; she's a baby, when you learn to control your judging I'll expect my baby to learn to control her crying. I can say no! No I won't go into a public bathroom to feed my baby. Sorry grandma; I know you really really want to have them for a sleepover but I"m just not ready yet. My job is to put them first and suddenly I am capable of doing that all the time.
I knew that I would love my children even before they were even born, yet I had no idea just how deep that love would run. I didn’t know that love could physically hurt, that your heart could be so full that it ached. No one could have prepared me for how my heart filled instantly the moment I first laid eyes on my children. I wasn’t prepared for the feeling that coursed through my body when my baby wrapped her little hand around my finger or when he slept soundly in my arms letting out the occasional sigh, telling me he felt perfectly at home right there in my arms. I had no understanding of what it was like to be willing to climb the tallest mountain or cross the deepest ocean to keep someone safe, healthy and happy. I didn’t know how much closer I would feel towards Mr. C. I didn’t know that it was possible to love someone so unconditionally and not expect anything in return.
I prepared myself to the best of my ability but there are some things you just can’t plan for. Motherhood is full of surprises; wonderful, beautiful, heartbreaking surprises. I never really dealt well with the unknown but becoming a parent has taught me to find the beauty in these new unplanned moments of life. I can't wait to see what other surprises are in store for me!