Liz McLennan: What Surprised Me Most About Motherhood

A Runner-up Winner of the YMC/Playtex Writing contest

Liz McLennan - What Surprised Me Most About Motherhood

YMC teamed up with Playtex to celebrate the wild ride of parenting by asking moms to submit a story describing “What Surprised You Most About Motherhood.” The stories made our judges laugh, cry, and nod heads in agreement, but they were finally able to narrow it down to these winning submissions. Read this runner-up winner's story about how motherhood surprised her.

I had no idea that love like this existed.

That was my first coherent thought when my first child — a son — was born and the nurse placed him in my trembling arms for the first time.

It felt as though my heart would burst from my body as I gazed down at his tiny, perfect face. He looked right at me, I swear it, and when our eyes met, it was like coming home after a long, long journey.

“Welcome to the world, my heart. I’m your mummy.”

While pregnant with my second child, I worried that I would not love him as much as I loved his brother. While others assured me that I would so, I fretted nonetheless. As the months wore on and my due date loomed, I decided that I would never, ever tell a living soul this shameful truth.

And then he was born and all those worries simply melted away.

“Hello my darling,” I whispered through happy tears, holding him as close to my heart as I could, “I’ve been waiting to love you for my whole life.”

In both moments, holding my sons for the very first time, what was so wholly unexpected was that such undiluted joy tasted almost exactly like grief.

And it remains one of the most surprising things about motherhood for me.

Each and every moment of my children’s lives is like this: I am proud and delighted and so, so very blessed that they chose me as their mama, but sad too, knowing that these moments will never come again.

Each age is my favourite, each phase is the most challenging. Each milestone passed, each skill acquired moves them further and further away from me and closer to the men they are destined to become.

When once I wondered aloud to my mum if this terrible joy is normal, she merely smiled and patted my hand: “It will always be this way, Liz. Bittersweet. Even when the boys have grown and have families of their own, you will still be awed by the miracle of them and ache at how swiftly the years have flown by. You’re almost 40 now and this is how I still feel about you.”

It shouldn’t have surprised me but it did — that another person could know this fierce, wondrous love. I felt a new and wonderful kinship with her then, this amazing woman who loves me without conditions, wholly, reverently. 

That she loves her grandsons even more?

Well, that doesn’t surprise me, actually. They’re pretty awesome. I’m their mum. I should know!

For even more inspiring stories that celebrate and reflect on what it means to be a mom, visit our "YMC and Playtex Writing Contest Winners" page.

Liz is 46, and isn't sure how that happened, exactly. She is raising two amazing humans, and isn't entirely sure about that, either, but is mostly loving it. And them. And coffee