Every year, as Mother’s Day approaches, I reflect upon what it truly means to be a mother. I did this even before I became a mother myself, but now, as a mother, I realize that the definition of motherhood has taken on an entirely new meaning for me.
I still remember walking through a crowded street on a hot summer day, my swollen belly swaying with every awkward step, my first child literally on the verge of bursting out of my body. A revelation: at any minute, my life as I knew it would change forever. My entire identity and everything I thought I understood about life was on the verge of an epic transformation.
I was about to go from being just my mother’s child to becoming my child’s mother. From that point on, for every day of the rest of my life, I would always be a mother.
But what exactly is it that defines motherhood?
Clearly there exists no one brief or concrete definition of motherhood. So I compiled a list of my unexpected surprises, both good and not-so-good, that have defined the early years of motherhood for me. These are the funny little things that perhaps we all encounter…those little reminders truly define us as mothers.
- You can do anything and everything with one hand. This includes, but is by no means limited to, the following: sweeping the floor, squatting over to pick dropped objects up off of the floor, removing items from refrigerator, watering plants, and doing laundry.
- You leave the keys hanging in the front door. Three nights in a row.
- Upon changing your baby’s diaper, you find your now crumpled, damp grocery list inside of the diaper. (yes, this actually happened to me!)
- You are now capable of picking the nose of another human being.
- You don’t even bat an eye after being peed on, pooped on, and vomited on.
- You feel physical pain at the sound of your child’s unhappy cry.
- This scenario has become a much too common occurrence: It’s 4:00 pm, and you suddenly realize that you have yet to shower, brush your teeth, eat, get dressed, brush your hair, or do anything else that remotely reflects one of your own needs. That is how engrossed you were in that all consuming child.
- You frequently find yourself putting the orange juice (or anything else that probably belongs in the refrigerator) back in the cabinet.
- You have acquired a nearly supernatural ability to feed your baby, change your baby’s clothes, and change a diaper completely in the dark, while being in a sleep-deprived, delirious state.
- You are so sleep deprived at 3 am that you try to breastfeed your baby upside down. (for the record, this did not actually happen to me, but it has happened to someone out there…you know who you are!!)
- You think that your husband is your baby. Every night. (Don’t ask…)
- You have acquired a lightning-fast reflex at the mere sound of your baby moving anything small, sharp, or filthy toward that gaping mouth and have mastered the one-fingered pinky swipe inside of baby’s mouth to remove said dangerous object before it is consumed.
- You have mastered the art of eating with your plate a foot away from you in an attempt to avoid baby’s destructive grasp, without even the smallest tidbit of your dinner falling off or your fork.
And, throughout all of those sleepless nights and tears of both sheer joy and utter exhaustion, and hours of relentless hard work, you will never forget that moment when everything changed…that moment when you first held that tiny, beautiful, creature. That moment of unconditional love. That moment when you became a mother.
Motherhood now defines me, just as it defines every mother on the earth.
Motherhood has become my identity, engulfing every minute of every day, every thought, every action, and every bit of energy within me. And I simply cannot imagine it any other way.
As a mother, love overflows, every day. How else to live life?
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