I found myself once again at a party, exchanging birth stories with other women. So many of them gave touching, emotional tales about how they felt when their babies finally came into the world. They recounted weeping tears of joy and relief while feeling a flood of maternal love wash over them. My own mother tells me her “focus object” during labor was a clock on the wall, and that when I was born she shouted, “11:05!!”
I have had four children, all of them born via C-section. Perhaps it was the medication talking, or the complete lack of feeling anywhere in my body that allowed me to be somewhat philosophical at such a time, but the only birth I ever got teary-eyed about was my last baby’s.
When each of my children were born, what I felt most was amazement and a little confusion. It is an unreal event, giving birth. One minute there is just you, your partner, and medical team. The next moment there is an extra person who is very confused and upset, has immediate needs and limited communication. It’s weird.
As a mom, logically of course, you know there is a baby inside you kicking your innards around for fun. And at 8 months (maybe sooner), you are SO ready to “get that thing out of me!” But when it actually happens, life is instantly changed and it is surreal. Each time one of my babies was born I thought with astonishment, “Look at that! It’s a baby!” Then befuddled, “How did that get here?” And again with awe, “That’s my baby!” And again with confusion, “Now what?”
My children are beautiful, amazing, frustrating little people. Every now and then, I sit back from whatever busy task I have and listen to their conversations and chuckle. I delight in their delight at a butterfly passing by. I love listening to them laugh and squeal and learn. I am impressed at each new skill they acquire from sitting up to talking, exploring, and expressing their opinion on a subject.
That’s not to deny the tough and sometimes ugly side of parenting when it is to your children’s advantage they are cute. Just last week at the credit union I was sure I had had one or two children too many. It had been a long day of catching up on errands, and after coming back from vacation last weekend and a looong car ride home…I should have brought my stroller in, but thought it wouldn’t be a big deal; I just wanted to make a few, simple deposits.
Long story short, the toddler had her hands in my face, pushing my head back, and squirming in my arms the entire time I was trying to talk to the clerk. My seven-year old son was running around and stopped back to interrupt the clerk several times with, “Can I have a treat!?”, and even my mature nine-year old daughter started jumping around. It was the day before tax day (I had forgotten) so there were a lot of people standing in line, and I barely made it to the car before I burst into tears from embarrassment.
But it’s OK. I’m plotting my revenge for their teenage years…
So to all you mommies, teachers, and childcare givers both young and mature; you who have seen the good, the bad, and the ugly sides of children; you who both delight in, and are exasperated by children; you who teach, care for, and constantly give of yourselves with little compensation, I say: Happy Mother’s Day!