I remember that as a young child I always loved baby dolls. It didn’t matter how big they were or what kinds of accessories came with them. Just as long as it was an adorable baby to love and care for. Every Christmas I would recevie at least one new doll to add to my ever growing family of babies. They didn’t cry. They didn’t dirty diapers, unless they were the ones who wet their diapers. They didn’t scream and throw foods in the clean kitchen floor. They certainly never would have dreamed of getting into your brand new $8 splurge of lipstick and use it to draw a “horsie” on the bathroom wall.
I was the oldest of three children. I was always the one in charge of the other two on our school bus rides and when we were home alone. I learned very early what it meant to be a responsible person and to keep my siblings safe and sound. My little sister still looks up to me for help and advice and she’s 24 years old and married now. Once when I was about 12 years old, I remember my dad telling me that he thought I would be a wonderful mother when I grew up. I appreciated that, especially coming from him.
As I got a little older I was known to babysit many of my young cousins. I can clearly recall three cousins particularly. They ranged from birth to 5 years of age. My most favorite of all was a newborn baby boy. He was my “regular”. I babysat him every day of the week for a long while. I sat for him until he was 4 years old and went off to preschool. He was my “Little Guy” and I was his “Kwistee”. I was heartbroken when he went off to school. But I suppose it was just a taste of things to come. I have to say though, that after all of the child care I had provided over the years, none of it truely prepared me for motherhood.
I got married when I was 17 years old, yes I was very young. We built a house when I was 19. Then our first daughter was born two weeks before I turned 20. Our second daughter was born three and a half years later and then our third daughter arrived four and a half years after that. If you are confused or your math just plainly sucks, this all means that I am 29 years old, have been married 12 years and have three daughters ages 9, 6 and 1 year old. After all these years I’ve finally realized one simple thing……I knew NOTHING about Motherhood before the girls were born.
The definition of Motherhood is “the state of being a mother”. In my opinion, that definition comes no where close to describing motherhood. Motherhood is a lot more than just giving birth. Any woman that gives birth is that baby’s mother but that act alone does not make you a mother. The children and events actually turn you into a mother.
When a baby is first born and you see that little person for the very first time, you are suddenly full of more love than you could possibly imagine. I had been told, by other people, that it would happen but I never knew it would be such a pure, neverending, complete soul-filling kind of love. My heart would swell and I would cry tears of joy at the sight of the little person who had tormented my body for nine long months.
After the inital “honeymoon” period subsides youa re bombarded with dirty diapers, a crying baby, sleep deprivation, a dirty house, non-stop breastfeeding (or bottle preparations), crazy hormones and a lot of anxiety over whether or not you are cut out for all of this. Are you doing things right? What does RIGHT mean? Why are there so many people telling you how to do everything? No one says the same thing. Who should you listen to?
Don’t worry. It does get better. Things start to fall into place. The baby gets use to being in the outside world and you get use to motherhood. Motherhood really sneaks up on you. In a few years you will look back on these early days and think, “Wow! That’s when I truely became a mom”.
The day to day routines begin. Life speeds by. Your children grow and grow. Each new birthday seems to arrive faster than the one before it. Before you know it, your children are grown. When this happens, what events will you look back on? For me, it won’t be those days where the girls push my patience to the limits. Or even tha days full of screaming girls who want to do nothing but fight with one another.
The things I look back on are the first smiles, first words, first steps, the sadness I felt when breastfeeding was over, the first days of kindergarten and many many more wonderful, sweet and enduring moments.
The things that made me a mother were the endless nights of rocking a crying baby with a fever of 103 while crying to the on-call doctor over the phone. The painfully engorged breasts because my baby decided to sleep through the night after months of waking every two hours. The constant wakings to check that the baby, who decided to sleep through the night, is still breathing. The middle of the night yells of “Mommy!” followed by the sound of vomit hitting a carpeted floor. The arms of my toddler wrapped tightly around my neck while she is giggling and squealing a high pitched “Lub Yooooo!” in my ear. The little girl who wants me to rock her before bed even though we both know she’s too old for it. The moments of reading to three little girls who adore reading as much as I do. The excitment in their faces when you show them something new and they are amazed that you knew about it all along.
In the end, no one can be prepared for motherhood. Motherhood just pounces on you and takes hold tightly. All you can do is go with the flow, hold on tightly and, most importantly, enjoy the ride!