Just in time for my first Mother’s Day, I started to feel like, well, a mom. You would think that 9 months of pregnancy and the days and months of sleepless nights would have added up to some feeling of maternal-ness, but no. It would be more accurate to say that I have spent the last few months in an out-of-body experience, watching myself go through the motions of caring for a child. I’ve been mommying the way a dancer might learn steps in a purely technical way before infusing the dance with any sort of spirit or ‘inspiration.’
But maybe, because my child has become so interactive and adorable, the job of being a parent no longer completely sucks. “OH! This is why I am doing this!”
People have asked, “Are you enjoying being a Mom?” “Don’t you love being a Mother?” Is Mommyhood just the best thing ever?” And I find myself stumbling over words in an attempt to answer. When I relayed my difficulty to a mom-friend, she responded, “Yeah, I enjoy it the way anyone who has an unrelenting 100 hour a week job LOVES their job.”
I am deeply in love with my son. It is not hyperbole to say that my complete being and reason for living is now encased in an itty-bitty toothless, hairless wonder. But I do not love being a mother.
In addition to all of my regular anxiety, I have this new, low-grade, ever-present, burning question at the back of my mind: Is my son alive? And I will have this for the rest of my life, or his, which I hope is ever so much longer than mine.
It is the hardest job I have ever done.
Yes ok, people have said, “Oh but it’s easy. It’s so simple when they are little.” Yes, but balancing your life, your creativity, your finances, your time… etc… is the most insane juggling act of my life. And yet someone is going to be disappointed. It is inevitable in spite of the fact that you are doing the best you can. You just hope that your children get disappointed the least in the grand scheme of things.
And some people will understand. And a great many won’t. And you realize the thought “you can’t understand what I am going through” goes through your head a million more times that you can ever actually say it. Because saying it just makes you AND the other person feel bad. Because it’s not anyone’s fault. Because people who have kids and people who don’t are standing on opposite sides of a slightly opaque window where you kinda have an idea of what it’s like but you can never really know. The way you can never really know what it’s like to live in Russia, but you have an idea of it because you’ve seen Mikhail Gorbachev on TV.
So, send your mother a card people. She’ll appreciate it more than you know. That is, until you become a mom.