I am a mother. It has been three weeks and that sentence still feels inaccurate. You might think that after 40 plus weeks of pregnancy, six ultrasounds and during my 23-hour labour, I must have thought about the child at the end of the tunnel, literally and figuratively? After all that preparation – buying clothes, a cot and a shocking amount of stuff for such a little person – I should have been ready for the shift in identity but no. A part of me is waiting for the ‘mothering’ that I have been doing to end. The late-night feeding, diaper changes, washing my son, cleaning his belly button, singing to him and chatting with him… I am waiting for his real mother to turn up. Surely it can’t be me, can it? This poor child got me as his mum? The way we quote our mothers and their wisdom and venerate their role in our lives… this poor kid got me? Woi!
I am not looking for compliments and reassurance – I guess I am just stunned that God let this happen. Many of us, even those unfortunately raised by shingo-upande parents, still place our mothers on a pedestal. We revere their choices, ourselves being one of them. We quote them. We are inspired by them and even other mothers enjoy a kind of ‘reverence or respect-by-association’ type of privilege. The shroud of motherhood covers even the most undeserving deadbeats with positive regard.
I am still trying to find my footing in the mothering arena. Each time I pick up my son I am struck by his beauty; how precious he is and how lucky I am that God chose to honour me with this role. Or, if you believe that children choose their parents, that this little boy chose me as his mum. I swear his is the most beautiful and perfect face I have ever looked at – and yes, I am aware that Jesus was once a male baby. Every wrinkle on his little body is being studied intently. Every noise he makes is becoming a part of my lexicon. And why lie, the boy’s breathe smells of pure joy.
Of course like all new mums, I am exhausted and sometimes overwhelmed by the things that no one tells you. Like the fact that this is a very fluid time – you are sweating, peeing, bleeding and breastfeeding all at once. The fact that your breasts aren’t just uncomfortable when full – oh no, they really hurt. The fact that you shrink on a daily basis and the huge baby belly is pretty much gone.
Do I feel different now that I am a mummy? Yes and no. I still feel like myself, but that self feels consumed by another being. What I am wondering is if that consumption will end. Right now each moment is determined by my child – what and when I eat and sleep; when he sleeps, or when to squeeze everything else like showering and this writing in between his shut eye. I guess what I thought of as ‘self’ will have to expand to accommodate him and me? I’ll keep you posted.