Last night, I watched the movie “Motherhood”. If you haven’t seen the film, it centers around a blogger on the best/worst Mommy day of her life. On top of planning her daughter’s birthday party, caring for her children, absent-minded husband, dog, and an aging neighbor, she tries desperately to write a 500 word piece about what Motherhood means to her.
Now I don’t live in the Village and I sure as two hockey sticks don’t look like Uma Thurman (despite the film’s best efforts, the woman only manages to make frazzled look sexy), but I got where this woman was. She didn’t feel like she reached her career potential and while she adored her children, she felt creatively thwarted by the stresses that make up Mommyhood.
And I thought what is Motherhood to me? I couldn’t come up with a single answer but rather a series of competing realities that make up my life post delivery.
A friend without children once asked me how was I different. I answered quickly with little forethought that before children I knew what it meant to be willing to die for someone I loved but after children I knew what it was to be willing to kill. That’s right. I said it. This sunny, quirky and relatively little Mom has a giant mother lion hiding in her. And I would do anything to protect them. Not scary Texas Cheerleader Mother willing to kill but definitely willing to stop anyone cold who would hurt my children. That is part of motherhood for me.
Part of motherhood is exhaustion. A bone-numbing, eye-crossing, brain cell destroying exhaustion. I can count on one hand how many nights I have slept without some interruption. Some nights seem more like a series of cat naps. Some nights are less than that. I have even woken up on nights that the kiddos have actually both slept through the night (rarer than a winning lottery ticket) in a cold sweat because I am so accustomed to one of them waking me up that I feared that something must be wrong.
As in the film, part of motherhood for me is the reality that my brain does not work as it did before. People used to call me “The Elephant” because I never forgot anything. I was also frighteningly punctual. I think that I had complex. articulate thoughts. I say “think” because the memory is foggy but there is a vague remembrance of deep conversations over wine and David Sylvian music. Now my brain is filled with PTA forms, library book due dates, packing lunches and backpacks. This is muddled with choruses of Dora and Ni-Hao, multiple daily readings of The Very Hungry Caterpillar, and spelling lists. Finally, add to this mental stew the aforementioned exhaustion, and I fear that coherent thoughts are less the norm and more savant-style flashes from an ever-more addled mind.
Most of all, however, motherhood means stolen glimpses at heaven. There are moments as a mother that are so intensely awe-inspiring, so jaw-droppingly gorgeous, so heavenly, that I honestly think that if I died in that moment, I would not even realize that I had moved into Heaven. There are moments that don’t just make being a mom worthwhile, they make living worthwhile. They give each breath vitality and value. They make me believe in all that is good and worthwhile in this world and the next.
So,stir it together and that is what motherhood means to me.