Being a mother to Pigtail comes as natural as breathing. I was told it wouldn't. I was told that becoming a mother would involve unending sleepless nights and tears of frustration and questioning every decision.
I was told, just as I was about my first year of marriage, that it would all be so hard, so very, very hard. That mothering would be similar to climbing Mount Everest: worth the view and sense of accomplishment in the end, but with a daily journey full of sweat and gritted teeth. This is not how I am experiencing motherhood.
It is hard, but not in the ways I expected. While pregnant, I dreaded the up all night scenario. But in fact, I didn't mind the middle-of-the night feedings and soothings and traded them for the early morning shift, which my husband preferred anyway. I read, voraciously, about bonding and not-bonding with your baby and all the dos and don't of navigating those tricky emotions. But the connection I feel with my daughter isn't like anything else I know, and is impossible to quantify, though I couldn't understand that before she was born. I don't feel about her the way I feel about my parents or my husband or even my nieces and nephews. I suppose I was prepared for the big-ness of it, but not at all prepared for the different-ness of it. It's different from any other relationship in my life. It's different when it's your own.
The hardest part of my first year as a mother were the first two months. The physical trauma to my body took much longer to heal than I had ever planned for, and it has taken a long time for me to understand that wasn't true for everyone. I had such a terrible experience breastfeeding that I was forced to stop trying for fear of paralysis in every other mothering act.
Like they said they would, the sleepless nights droned on. Later there was some sickness, and some frustration. But these are not the emotions that come to mind when I think back on my first year as a mother. I applaud the women, the mothers, who tell their stories so that others feel less alone in their dark night. But I wish that just a few of us - maybe the few of us who didn't have such a difficult first mothering year - were louder about the immense JOY that comes with that tiny baby.
Maybe a few of us wouldn't feel any shame in proclaiming loudly and excitedly how much they not only love their child - for no one admits to not loving their child - but also love being a mother. Not a mommy, not a Work At Home or Stay At Home, but a mother to a child. Assert the joy and satisfaction in it, without the "but..."
I know the "but...", I do. For Pigtail, it may be the first and most significant thing I choose to hide from her.
Photo by Jules Bianchi. A little more where that came from next week.