Getting there

Getting there

Sunday, May 8, 2011

On Becoming A Mother

Sometimes when I am watching TV I see interviews with women who say that when they were growing up all they wanted to be was a mother. I'm always a bit taken aback by this, as when I was growing up it was, quite frankly, the last thing I wanted to be. It's not that I didn't love my own mother, as I did, and I was quite grateful she had chosen to be a mother so I could exist. It was just that I didn't think I was mothering material.

When I met the man who eventually became my husband it was pretty clear that he wasn't interested in fatherhood, either, and both of us had some serious growing up to do besides. We spent our twenties doing exactly that, living in downtown Toronto and leading the kind of lifestyle that only a childless couple can. There were nightclubs and parties, days on end when we never slept, spur of the moment travel - it was all really quite glorious.

It wasn't until my early thirties that I felt something inside me had changed. The thought of motherhood no longer terrified me. In fact it rather intrigued me. I still wasn't overly fond of babies or small children, but I had a deep suspicion that this might change were it my own child. I noticed too that my husband had begun to feel the same way, and thus, at 33, I found myself expecting a child.

I very clearly remember taking the home pregnancy test. I remember seeing the positive result and feeling a bit overwhelmed, wondering what I had gotten myself into this time and whether or not I could possibly really be someone's mother. I was excited - and afraid.

When I was pregnant we met an elderly lady in our local grocery store. She asked if this was our first child, and we said yes. When she learned this she told us that we were in for something we would never expect, that we would experience a kind of love we had never felt before, and that this would prove to be the best thing we'd ever done in our lives. She was a lovely lady, and quite honestly, dear friends, a genius in my opinion.

My pregnancy was not uneventful. There was a possibility of miscarriage in the early days, and I was distraught. Later on there were extra ultrasounds and a fetal assessment clinic visit due to some abnormalities that were noted (which all turned out to be false alarms). It was all very stressful and what became obvious was that my feelings for this little creature inside me were growing as rapidly as my girth. Every fear seemed magnified if it threatened my little one, and I would do anything to protect her. That is when I realized that this love was beginning far before the actual birth.

When my daughter was born it was like everything in my life fell into place. All the things I'd done before, and all the things I thought important, seemed secondary to the existence of this little person who relied on me. My world changed in an instant. I recall coming home from the hospital and rocking her in my arms, and the first song that came on the radio was Disney's "Circle of Life". I wept, and you can blame hormones if you like, but I've noted that ever since her birth I cry much more easily and for strange reasons. It's as if her arrival in my life put me in touch with some deep currents in my heart, currents that had been still for a very long time.

Every year when Mother's Day rolls around I must admit that I do not really expect any gifts or accolades. You see, dear friends, I received the best gift almost twelve years ago when I became a mother. I not only received a daughter who is ferociously intelligent and stunningly beautiful but I also received a new view and understanding of myself. There is no gift that can match that revelation. Being a mother is an honour, dear friends, and one that I am so very glad I have been able to experience.

This morning my precious daughter presented me with her gift to me - a beautiful bracelet she knew I would love as she knows my love of the unusual, and, most importantly, a collection of origami pieces she folded herself and that I knew took her hours to complete. I cried again this morning when she gave these things to me, because this little girl opened my heart as no other human being has ever done.


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