At the end of April, I was planning to write several posts about my experiences mothering my daughter over these last eight months. They were going to lead up to some flowery thoughts on Mother’s Day. They were going to be a lovely reminder of what I was doing and how I felt about things going on in Flora’s, Sean’s and my life as a new family.
However, mothering a young baby does not always lend itself to writing thoughtful, poignant, loving tributes to the various facets of motherhood in a timely fashion. There are just so many other things to do, like raise the kid. I’ve been spending my time mothering instead of writing about mothering. This is probably not a bad thing. Even now, as I sit here trying to write something, I feel like I’m going all over the place. There is so much I want to say, and it’s hard to rein in all these big thoughts to tell the story the way I want to.
Growing up, and well into my twenties, I never expected to have kids. If someone had told me at fifteen, or twenty, or even twenty-five, that I would spend my thirtieth birthday sitting on my deck with close friends, nearly 39 weeks pregnant, waiting to find out if I was going to be induced later that week, I would have laughed at them. It’s just not something I ever expected I would do. Yet here we are. (There are several cliches that describe this perfectly, but I’ll leave you to use the one that you prefer.)
Some people like to say that “if I’d known I would love having a child so much, I would have had one sooner”. I don’t feel that way. If I had a baby earlier in my life, I would never have had Flora. I would have had another baby, and while I’m sure he or she would be a wonderful person, he or she wouldn’t be Flora. She has taught me so much already, and I’m not sure that I would have been ready to learn from another baby from another, younger time. I can only hope that I can teach Flora all the things she needs to know to live safely and happily as a citizen of the world. I know we will continue to teach each other for the rest of our lives.
The weekend I first told my parents that Sean and I were expecting, I told my mother that I still wanted to be the same person I was before I had the baby. I still wanted to like dirty jokes, loud music, silly movies, a couple glasses of wine now and again and all the other stuff I enjoyed before the Baby would turn my life upside down. I was terrified that I would lose myself and only be regarded as a Mommy. My mom quickly set me straight and told me that I would still be the same person. She talked me down from more than a few worrisome points, and I am grateful to her for that. The best mothering advice she gave me is that “common sense goes a long way”. And it does.
I knew I would love my baby unconditionally, but I didn’t know how physical that bond would be. At the beginning, Flora would cry and I would leak milk, soaking whatever I was wearing. Watching her nurse filled me with awe and pride that I could provide my child the sustenance she needed to grow and thrive. It still does, even though I’m not her sole source of food anymore. The amount of time I’ve spent holding her, comforting her, breathing her baby smell in. I never expected to be smelling her so much, whether to enjoy a freshly-bathed baby ready for bed, or to sniff for a dirty bum.
It really is a visceral connection. I know our connection will change as we get older. I just hope that I can remember all these awe-inspiring, life-changing, huge, loving feelings for the rest of my days. And that I can find the right words to describe them to her.