It’s funny how small talk can sometimes demand the most profound answers. We get together and, in the most casual of circumstances like a BBQ, drop huge Meaning-Of-Life type questions like,
“How you doin’?”
“How’s Married Life?”
And in the last 6 weeks,
“How are you finding motherhood?”
Well, here’s my answer.
My life is now broken into three-hour installments, and my world has expanded and contracted at the same time. This Mommydom is a black hole. I am sucked in and free-falling, alternately bewildered and blissed out, and all the rules I once held against fellow human beings no longer seem to apply – at least for now.
All the adages about motherhood go off like light bulbs every day, and yet the words – poor imitations, crude descriptors – pale in comparison to the living, breathing reality that I am holding a babe in my arms, she is mine, and I am hers. My world has officially been rocked.
All at once, my ambitions have hit rock bottom and shot to the moon. I hear myself fervently wishing things like If-you-could-just-stay-in-the-bouncy-net-without-going-off-your-nut,I-would-be-so-happy. My goal for the week would be to get this brand new person to learn what night and day means for sleep time. While my ambition would be teach her the meaning of kindness and goodness, even though I haven’t come close to mastering the same.
Such lofty sights. Such intangible dreams. The stuff of project management nightmares.
We are smitten. This pooing, spewing, gurgling, sighing, yawning, stretching, heartbreaking product of our love has consumed our day and night. I get it now. I can see how a child can glue and rend apart marriages with her arrival and her leaving. It is so easy to get distracted by the New Kid on the Block, so easy to build your day around feeding her, soothing her, clothing her, loving her. It is too easy to push aside the marriage, until it is subsumed and buried in Gymboree classes and softball practice and singing lessons and playdates.
And I have changed. Or perhaps there’s a part of me that never got to see daylight until now. Who knows. But I can no longer watch or read anything about babies starving to death, or being abused by the hands they love and trust most. And my usual cocksure self is riddled with insecurity and doubt every day – a mild side effect of stupendously strong feelings of love and protectiveness. Also, who knew I’d have such a high threshold of the icky – bad smells, loud diapers, projectile milk fountains… God only knows.
My house has a smattering of Baby everywhere. My wardrobe has transformed into a collection of nursing uniforms. My eyebags are permanent. My fringe is perpetually pinned up so it won’t get in the way of gazing into her tiny face and laughing.
Oh, but you only needed the short version? Very well. How’s motherhood? Terrific and terrifying, thanks for asking.