I would have been a mom for exactly four years come this December 17th 2013. With two adoring boys who think the world of their parents, raising them is a jungle. Not a day goes by without some kind of mess happening somewhere (or everywhere) – unfailingly. It is immediately obvious that raising boys is hard work, especially when you are working. They have way too much energy, and too high a metabolism to keep them moving tirelessly for very long durations that surpasses your physical and to an extent, your mental capacity to endure them. But endure them, I must ; and so I do. After 4 years I guess, I have mellowed down my stresses over their chaos by a large magnitude. I still nag and whine, and fuss, but much less uptight about getting everything in order. After all, what is a kid without a little mess.
In these four years, going through the daily conundrums and sometimes run-of-the-mill parenting, I hardly ever thought about what motherhood means to me. Oh yes, the emotional, psychological and physical impacts have been profound, but I never really sit down and thought through what it really means to me being a mother.
Here’s the biggest realization, the number one thing that makes a difference when you sit and think about being a mother is that; Motherhood is entirely about being selfless.
Adam was my first born, who became the pinnacle that divided my before and my after motherhood experience. Until I was a parent, I have only given and received love in proportion to how I was given and was receiving love. Doling out more when I was treated right, serving less when I was not. Selfish love, but still love nonetheless. I rarely loved anyone more than I do myself because I worry too much about hurting myself, and even if I do, with families and lover, they were not deep enough to risk it all — consciously, subconsciously, whichever realm of consciousness, the awareness is ever-present.
However, the moment I became a mother and my heart swelled of a new found love that has never been felt before, I realized, my love for my child was pretty much going to be lopsided, forever. I love him not because of what he has done for me. I love him simply because he exists. And that is enough reason to give him all of my heart; for just existing. No longer selfish, my love has then become selfless and unconditional. Loving is no longer about protecting my own heart, loving is about giving up anything and everything even my own heart, to protect him. If I had ever once questioned my existence, and wondered what good I added to the world, motherhood gave me the answer. I was made to bring such a perfect source of joy into the world and raise him as best I could, to be as best as he could be.
I consider the perils of pregnancy, the scars of delivery and the aftermaths of birthing as badges of honor of my most cherished accomplishments in life. I have known some people who cringe at the thought of the changes and damages pregnancy and delivery do to their bodies. I scoff at such foolhardiness – for not wanting motherhood is the most absurd thing I have ever heard. I could understand wanting and not being able to conceive, but to consciously choose not to when you can, is pure madness. They couldn’t imagine the wealth of joy they would be missing out on.
Having a child exposes me raw as my emotions undergo significant transformations. A living breathing irony, I am both most vulnerable and most resilient at the same time. Often oversensitive and extremely strong-willed simultaneously. My child have me wearing my heart on my sleeves, leaving my feelings wide-open and releasing emotions in fireworks fashion. I am no longer able to harness my feelings as I get affected easily by the smallest of things and tears come easy, but then I am also able to quickly gather myself and be strong and sturdy in a flash. And the joy!! Oh the joy of being a mother, is just indescribable!
In spite of all the joy, I worried all of the time. I was scared and often wondered if I could be, or if I already am, a good mother. I was once told, the fact that I even have to worry that much is evident enough that I would make a good mother. But, would I, really? The nagging worry won’t peacefully leave, I wonder if it ever will. But I knew this, loving my child is something I embraced with abandonment, uninhibited, and whole heartedly, along with whatever that scared, terrified and threatened me – I will love him with all I have, and all I have to give. Motherhood gave me a second chance to embrace life with less inhibitions and a heart chock-full of love it’s uncontained.
Have I ever reminisced about my previous life and carefree days pre-motherhood? Sure I have. But no matter what the exchange, even if I have lamented the what-ifs, and what-could-have-beens, I would not trade my motherhood experience for the world. Even if I could turn back time, I will pick the same thing, the same way, experiencing motherhood before the other worldly joys. Because my life then may have felt free, but in hindsight, where my view is 20/20, it was unfulfilled, incomplete and lack-lustre. But as a mother, though life is wrecked with uncertainties, is often out-of-control, and unpredictable at best – yet the feeling of free is so much more profound and elevated. I was launched off the deep end of the pool, nervous as hell trying to stay afloat with my head above water, giving all I have to survive. And then when I do succeed, even at just staying afloat, the happiness is so tangible, intense and so fulfilling. In hindsight, life before motherhood was like treading shallow waters with my floaties on, always careful to guard my safety, lest I take too much risk; and always stopping myself from giving my all because I did not love anyone else enough to risk my life for and go further, deeper.
The concept of unconditional love – the full essence of the phrase became clear when I became a mother. My husband often asks, do I love him more, or do I love the kids more, and always expecting me of course, to tell him I love him more. I would tell him, I love them all the same. I wasn’t lying. But what I wasn’t saying was that, I love them the same but in totally different leagues. My children belong to the league where love is without condition. My husband belongs to the league where love, though strong and resilient, is still conditional to an extent. Should his love for me one day change, for whatever reason, my love for him will have to make a change, and it will. But my children, no matter what transpires in the future, how they turn out to be, what they would have done, and how they would have loved me back, my love for them, could not change, would not be able to. I would love them, in spite, or despite whatever the conditions. My husband may protest to this, but deep down, as a parent himself, he knows he feels the same. That is what parenting is, what motherhood means — that I was going to love my children so much even when they wouldn’t know how to reciprocate it. Truth is, they will never love me the same way, and that is the order of nature. But it is okay because my love for them, even if forever one-sided, is enough happiness for me.
Since four years ago, December has become my most special and celebrated month, and on the 17th, I am happiest not because I love Adam more than his brother, but because it marks a new milestone in my life, which significance surpasses, whatever milestones I have had or I will have in the future. Adam gave me the first taste at mothering, and for that I am thankful. Having Adam four years back, took me off my floaties, and forced me to tread deeper waters without safety on, and I do so willingly, because loving him, is at the deeper end of the pool, and I’d risked my all to get there. He gave me the gift of motherhood, a gift so meaningful that now that I’ve crossed the line and opened the box, I could not imagine living my life without it. The importance of the birth date of my motherhood experience has taken precedence, over even my own birth date.
Now I am a mother of two most adorable most spectacular boys. Aidil is a source of as much joy as his brother is. My love instead of divided, has multiplied instead. If I’d ever have any doubt about love growing and spilling over in so much abundance, it ceased with the birth of my second son. My motherhood realities are heightened, my challenges doubled, my risks and fears, quadrupled — yet I am still free and soaring with joy uncontained because I now have two Suns (or sons) in my orbit.
I never knew I could love this much, this deep, this big. I am saved from selfishness, because I am a mother. And that is God’s greatest gift to a humble being that is me.