So I’ve been a mom for about a month. I have been thinking periodically about what I wanted to say about motherhood first, because there is so much to say and not enough time or words to say it all. Here’s what I’ve got first:
I am a slightly different person than I was a month ago. My personality is the same, my basic philosophy on life is the same, but the focus of my time and energy is different. I used to spend a lot of time thinking about what I was going to do with my life- what goals I wanted to accomplish, which career I wanted to choose, what legacy will I leave on the earth before I am shuffled off this mortal coil. But the very first time I looked at her, I all of a sudden forgot everything I had planned for myself. It wasn’t a surrender of plans, or a dying to self- it wasn’t anything that involved effort on my part. I pulled Eloise’s slimy purple body out of the water and looked at her smashed and cheesy face, and I forgot my goals, my plans, even my name- and none of it mattered anymore anyway.
It was like those sci-fi movies where a man in a black suit flashes a little light in the eyes of someone who has just seen an alien. The little light erases all memories of the alien encounter, leaving people feeling just as though it never happened. For me it was in reverse. As soon as I saw the alien, the flash bulb went off and I forgot my life before the encounter. She is my goal. She is my plan. Making her the best little person she can be is all I really care about doing. And I don’t even miss the old me. The old me wasn’t as happy as the new me is. From what I remember, at least.
I knew motherhood would involve changing lots of diapers, staying up late, breastfeeding, and being homebound for days on end. I knew that I would be tired, and sore, and unsure of what to do. I never knew, however, how much I would really love doing all of these things. I love poop diapers. I love hanging out with her at 2am. I live for cradling her while she cries. A washing machine full of burp cloths and onesies is way more fun than climbing a corporate latter trying to reinvent myself to be hip , artsy, or whatever I think will make me likable to others. I don’t care that I am all hips and no hip. I can’t remember my life any other way, and it’s only been a month.
I now understand the origin and purpose of mom jeans, fanny packs, using your spit to clean faces, and minivans. I get it. These women did not say to themselves, “Gee- my bluejeans aren’t quite high enough in the waist- I think I will hike them up more and add some more room in the legs”. Instead, they didn’t even consider their jeans when they put them on. Their desire for cool, non-mom jeans was erased by the little sci-fi light flashing in their eyes the day their baby was born. The sci-fi light replaced “fanny packs are for grannies” with “check out all of the useful things I can carry hands-free to keep my kids organized”. And although I am not condoning their behavior, nor do I want to participate in the mom-jeans fanny pack phenomenon, but I do recognize that it isn’t their fault. Blame the brainwashers.
I love Eloise in a way that has profoundly changed the way the way I look at love. I finally know what my mom was talking about all of those years when she said, “when you have a child of your own, you will understand”. I get it now. The way she felt about me was the way I feel about Eloise. Now that I know what love like that feels like, love that brainwashes everything in my past and leaves me not even caring to reinvent myself, I feel like an idiot for some of the things I did.
If I had understood what love like that was, all of the rebellion, the fights, misunderstandings, and struggling to get my way from my parents would have seemed really stupid. Any justification that my teenage mind could have cooked up to behave like a loser would have crumbled under the enormous weight of my parents’ love for me. Now I know why people say that a parent’s love is the closest thing that humans can know to God’s love. My love for Eloise, although highly imperfect, is so intense, so all-encompassing, and so without limits or the triviality of pop-culture. It’s the kind of love that refines- it’s so strong that it burns off all of the dirt and grime and bad, and leaves only the best and brightest about someone. It’s the kind of love that makes you forget yourself. It’s the kind of love that makes you wear mom-jeans and a fanny pack. I bet that if God wore accessories, He’d have one impressive fanny pack. Not because He has no fashion sense, but because He is too busy loving us to even care if He is in style or not.
So and So that is the most major I have learned during my tenure in motherhood. It is probably the most serious. As soon as I can put words on them, I will share some other nuggets, but until then, I will hike up my mom-jeans, stock my fanny pack with hand sanitizer and lemon-scented wet-naps, and bask in the glow of my love for my child.