Shortly before our little bean was born, I was musing about what I would do with all my free time while our little soon-to-be would be snoozing peacefully in her bassinet (ha!). My partner suggested a blog. “Oh no,” I told him, “I’m not going to be one of those moms.”
Those moms? In my pre-baby life, those moms were suburban housewife types with cute haircuts who wrote about the latest quirky-titled eco cleaning supplies, healthy snacks, and pinterest craft ideas, all sounding very domesticated and not very, well… feminist. For some reason reading their bios made me wince. I’d lumped these mom blogs – en masse – in with the whole cringe-worthy post-Sex in the City consumer industry of products marketed to women by assuming that we will see ourselves in any product or entertainment that incorporates sassy shoes, jewellery, burying emotions in pints of ice cream, or an eternal tension between loving ourselves and wanting to be prettier/skinnier/stronger.
Not that there’s anything inherently wrong with any of that, really. But it’s such a cliche. And that’s how I thought of mom blogs – cliche.
It’s easy to be judgemental when you have no idea what you’re talking about.
Now I get it. I yearn to give these thoughts deference somehow, to throw them out to the Universe. As if doing so will somehow give it all some kind of validation. I’ve found in life that when I turn my thoughts outward to the world, there’s usually some answer back that says, “yeah, me too”. A little pat on the back that says, you’re okay, we’re okay.
This is one wild, love-drunk ride. Sometimes messy, sometimes shaky, always awe-some, in the truest sense of the word. What I’ve come to know thus far is that motherhood is an adventure in juxtapositions: it’s everything I expected, and nothing I could have prepared for. I’m the same me, and yet feel like an entirely new person. This new-found love is fierce and driving, and yet at times I am lost and lonely. Motherhood is the most extraordinary, ordinary thing. There’s little that’s more common – we’re all either mothers or products of our mothers, in some beautiful or messed up way, and yet it feels like the most miraculous thing on the planet. For the first two months I wanted to yell gleefully at everyone “Can you believe this?? Did you know you could feel love like this?? I didn’t know! You have to have babies! IT’S THE BEST!!” I would walk the streets, beaming at everyone, absorbing the happiness reflected back at me and think, “this is the answer!” From our blissed-out bubble, the world was suddenly a perfect place of love and light. And I felt like a superhero.
A few months later and I’ve floated back to earth (some days it’s more of a crash). While the awe-someness has taken up residence in our lives, informing every new experience and challenge, the world hasn’t changed, hasn’t become a perfect place. It’s still a giant mess, except now it’s my responsibility to protect our perfect bean from the dark and dangerous bits, and that scares the shit out of me. I’m overcome at times with her innocence, the simple trust and wonder that she is right now, and know that in her life there she will invariably experience scratches in that perfection, and my heart aches.
The other discovery I made, as the shine of new love and new mom hormones gave way to prolonged lack of sleep and the reality of constant dependence, was that I hadn’t really changed. Anxious thinking and sleeplessness are old friends that had taken a vacation those first few weeks. I felt stronger and more confident than ever. But slowly they returned as my brain realized that – surprise, surprise – there’s just so much to be concerned about with a new baby! She might fall off the couch. She could roll into my armpit and suffocate. She might contract any number of diseases from the coughing public. We could be in a car accident. She could grow up to be a sociopath. Someone could be waiting to steal her the moment at the park that I succumb to the kind of fatigue that can only happen after nights of hourly wake ups (I mean, the manual that came with our stroller warns that strollers are a great way for strangers to kidnap your baby if you dare to turn away for a second – how are we supposed to relax??). There is no end of possible horrible things to imagine. The worry and subsequesnt sleeplessness were a disappointing blow to my self-confidence: no, motherhood hadn’t made me a super hero. It hadn’t cured me of my baggage. It just gave me way more important things to fret about.
So here we are. I humbly apologize to all of those moms. I didn’t know. I didn’t know how wonderful, scary, exciting, energizing, and emotional it would be. I didn’t know how important it would be to be surrounded by other women experiencing the same thing, to have a community that gets it, to have other women, babe on hip, nodding knowingly and saying, “me too.” To share the highs and lows. And yeah, I get why quirky-titled eco products and fun pinterest craft ideas are so important. Because nothing is more important than trying to make my little bean’s world as perfect as I can make it.
I will be her warrior, yes, because for her I have found a selflessness, courage, and fierce protectiveness I’ve not felt before. In the hard moments I remind myself of that – I am her warrior mama, and everything is going to be okay for her, for me, and our little family, because the answer, ultimately, is love. And that we have, overflowing.