Wednesday, December 07, 2005

I read an e-mail today about a daughter who was giving her mother the news that she and her husband were expecting a baby. The e-mail was about how the mother wanted to express to her daughter the complicated emotions and changes that would happen to her once that child was born, but had trouble doing so. I found myself knowing exactly what she felt. I have often tried to express my own feelings surrounding my life as a mother.

The changes in my life after becoming a mother involve more than just me trying to hide the disgusting truth that is my new body, the inability to sleep in on weekends, or take spontaneous vacations. It's something that no childbirth class will ever be able to teach you (not like they taught me much to start with). The physical wounds of child bearing eventually heal, but becoming a mother has left an emotional wound inside me that is so raw, I fear I will be forever vulnerable, because I know that I will never again read a newspaper without asking, "What if that had been MY child?" News of every plane crash, and every house fire haunts me. When I see pictures of starving children, I now always wonder if anything could be worse than watching a child die. No matter how sophisticated I was (yeah right), becoming a mother has reduced me to the primitive level of a bear protecting it's cub. An urgent call of "Mom!" is enough to cause me to drop the good crystal without a moment's hesitation to rush over and make sure that no bones have been broken.

I remember thinking, while I was pregnant, that motherhood wouldn't affect my career. I would simply get a really good babysitter, and everything at work would carry on as it had before. But no matter how much time I invest in my career, I have been professionally derailed by motherhood. There are days when I have to use every ounce of my non-existent discipline to keep from running home, just to make sure my baby is safe with the strangers I have entrusted him to, no matter how much I have investigated their qualifications. However decisive I may be at the office, I second-guess myself constantly as a mother.

Eventually I did shed the pounds of pregnancy, but I have never felt the same about my body. I have slowly learned to recognize that my life, once so important, is of less value to me now that I have a child. I know that I would give myself up in a moment to save my offspring, but also hope to live longer, not to accomplish my own dreams, but to watch my child accomplish his.

I know that my husband understands how much more I love him now, as a father. He was always careful to powder the baby's bottom, and never hesitates to play endless games of hockey or watch countless episodes of-god forbid-Barney, with him. I have since fallen in love with him all over again, for reasons that others would find very unromantic. Just the fact that he holds my hand as we lie in bed, when I'm exhausted after a full day running around after our son, that he will hold out his arms for Derek who is running hell-bent-for-leather to jump on him when he walks in the door at the end of the day, or when my husband has taken the job of bathing him and putting him to bed all on his own, so that I may have a moment's rest before storytime, has now endeared my husband to me forever, with those new bonds being stronger than any vow of marriage, or declaration of love.

I offer a silent prayer for my husband and me, and for all those mere mortals called parents, who stumble their way into this most wonderful of callings. May you always have in your arms the one who is in your heart.