I became a mother in December 1999. Ten years later, I am still struggling to cope with the wide range of emotions that comes with motherhood. I truly had no idea.
Motherhood has taught me love that I never knew before. Of course I loved my husband, my parents, my brother and a couple of close friends, but with motherhood came the kind of burning love that places the other person at the center of your universe, an all-consuming love that makes you realize that if the need ever arose, you would gladly give your life for the other person. The kind of love that makes you physically experience pain when they feel pain, that makes you wish you could take the pain – physical or emotional – away from them and experience it yourself so that they don’t have to.
I have never loved as deeply or as fully as I love my children.
Motherhood also taught me fear. When you love so deeply, when every fiber of your existence fervently wishes that another person would grow and flourish and survive, you sometimes feel deep, uncontrollable fear. What if something horrible happened to that person? You can’t even imagine that. The thought sends shivers down your spine. And with each case of a kidnapped or molested child you keep them closer to you, and you read about how bad helicopter parenting is and how you should set your kids free, roaming the streets and riding subways, and you don’t care – they are the most important thing in your life and bad things can happen to them becuase they are small and helpless and so help you God, you are going to keep them as safe as you can even if it means you are a bad, overprotective parent.
And when you do let them roam, reluctantly, the worry is so intense, it is almost unbearable.
Motherhood has taught me that you can love someone with all your might, you can love them as you have never loved before, and they would love you back with all their heart, but the relationship would still be stressful and draining and tiring, so much so that sometimes you would be left with nothing more to give. I once read a forum where a woman talked about a mother she had seen at the supermarket – her child was nagging “mom mom mom MOM!” and the mother just ignored him. The woman was upset that the mother had ignored her child and was quick to label her as a “bad mom.” I wouldn’t be so quick to label her. As a seasoned mom I know that you sometimes get to a place where you feel so tired, so drained, that you simply cannot give anymore, you must distance yourself emotionally – even just for a few minutes – or you would risk burning out.
Motherhood makes me feel deeply and fully, in ways that I never knew existed, every single day. It’s a wild ride, and one of the most intense experiences of my life. Ten years after becoming a mother, I am still struggling to make sense of the wide range of emotions that comes with motherhood.
Happy Mother’s Day.
In the photo: holding my firstborn, winter 2000.