Motherhood is a strange animal. From the first shock of holding our newly born baby we can feel like we are riding a tidal wave - we barely have time to think. At 17 months old, it feels like the storm has settled in our household. Yes, Bobby usually wakes up once a night for a milk and occasionally wakes up a second time for unknown reasons. We still have the odd bad night and we are now at peace with the fact that meal times and getting out of the house are not quite as simple as they used to be. But for most part, we tick along merrily. Where there is quiet, the chaos of our mind kicks in again and I have been thinking about my role as a mother. Obviously the usual parental guilt is there, but I find myself thinking at times that I still don't feel like a mother, and I wonder when this magical feeling will kick in full time.
Needless to say during pregnancy I felt completely like a mother in an almost tribal sense. I'm not sure how anyone else feels during pregnancy, but there were times (as especially midway) when I felt very connected to motherhood and the mothers that have gone before me. It was a very unifying experience, especially when I was in pregnancy yoga classes surrounded by other glowing women. The experience of birth was a bit of a shock, as was that of seeing my child for the first time (in a good way of course.) I was too snowed under by this new way of life to think about my role as a mother. I didn't think about it - I just was. And this is the way it should be.
Recently, as Bobby is away from home four days a week and I get back into work I have been thinking about it a bit too much. There is a period when we wonder how 'motherhood' is going to fit in with our pre-baby personality. I don't mean this in terms of our lifestyle, but the person we are. For me, the dilemma went like this, "I'm a raging geek / hippy hybrid person who barely feels like an adult at times. How can I be a mother?" It's safe to say that I definitely don't feel my age and this has bothered me in terms of my new motherhood persona. Also, when Bobby is in childcare, it can be hard to feel like a mother at times. I can be tidying his toys and feel like this. These thoughts have brought me to two conclusions.
Motherhood is as fluid and as flexible as a river. Motherhood is not a static idea. It changes and develops as we do, meaning that it can easily slot into our pre-baby persona, if we allow it to. The buds appear during pregnancy and begin to open when we emerge on the other side of childbirth. We don't question it during the first few crazy months: it just is. As our child grows and becomes more independent, so too does motherhood develop. We realise that we can still be who we are and be a mother. We can have an immature sense of humour, love comic books and computer games and still be a more. It our love for our child and the little things that we do every day that make us a mother, not our interests. That brings me to my second realisation.
Motherhood is a constant. I mentioned that when I am away from my child, that I very often don't feel like a mother and question when I will begin to really feel like one. The truth is that, regardless of whether my child is physically with me, I will always be a mother. It doesn't matter what is going through my head. I go about my day doing what I need to do, sometimes stopping and thinking about Bobby, wondering if he is having fun. The connecting factor again, is love. A part of my mind is still with him and I am happy to see him when he gets home. I obviously look forward to the weekend and the holidays and the times when I can be around him more - but I can be assured that as I think about him, I am being a mother. The very fact that I am questioning my status as a mother, makes me more of a mother. I am thinking this way because I love my child dearly and am worrying that I don't do enough for him. This worry comes from a place of love, which in turn, makes me a mother.
My guess is that this is a feeling that is shared by mothers everywhere. I think the key to getting through this is to try and think differently. If we're going to think about it (which is sometimes inevitable), then we need to try and think about it in the terms above. The best scenario is to try and not think about it at all. Don't think about being a mother or your status as a mother - just be. Just be a mother. It isn't easy, but if we take it one day at a time, we will get there. And remember, in our child's eyes, we are the best mother in the world. Because we are their mother.