I am a reasonably young mother. I am twenty-five years old on a calendar, but I feel much older than that in life. I have a husband, three dogs, and a mortgage. Oh yes, and I have a baby. I love my life, but I don’t feel twenty-five anymore.
What interests me most about age is how it comes into play with my friends. Most of my friends are around my age, give or take five years, and yet almost none of them have children. They are in different stages in their lives, and so children have not yet become a part of their everyday vocabulary. This is where I come in.
Whenever I talk to my friends, we always begin with the inevitable, “What’s new?” My answers start with “Ellie started pulling herself up” or “Ellie said ‘Mama’ three times yesterday!” and I progress accordingly. All of this seems lost on my friends. To them, walking and talking is a part of the natural progression of aging. To me. my husband, and Ellie, each little step is a miracle in its own right, surely deserving of a parade, a celebration, and a day in its honor.
Don’t get me wrong, we felt pretty confident that Ellie would one day walk and talk. We were blessed with an able-bodied, neurotypical child, and so we had reasonable expectations. Our confidence in her progression, however, doesn’t change the days, weeks, and months we have spent helping her, teaching her, and anticipating her every move. My friends look at a baby crawling and they see a baby crawling. I see my daughter crawling, and I saw the most BRILLIANT child in the world who will clearly be capable of solving the world’s energy crisis one day in the near future.
It’s equally hard to explain the sheer fabulosity (that must be a word) of being a mother. My friends understand what they’ve heard: late nights, middle of the night feedings, dirty diapers, a bazillion bottles to wash, crying, screaming, and then starting all over again. I cannot deny any of this. However, I can’t find a way to explain how all of this is worth it for one beautiful smile. Just as I forgot labor pains once I met my gorgeous baby, I also forget the middle of the night feeding when I feel her hug me in the morning. I don’t mind the diapers when I see her clapping while I work. I can listen to the screaming (in the confines of my home) if it means I can also hear her say “Mama” everyday. For each miserable day of no sleep, no shower, and no personal time, I also receive more rewards than I could possibly list in one blog.
Many people have said that motherhood is the hardest and most rewarding job all at the same time. Eighteen months ago, I would have concurred. Today, I would say this is an understatement of epic proportions. I wish I could find a way to explain to my friends the incredible world of being a mother. I hope someday they are equally blessed in their lives, should they choose to become parents. In the meantime, I struggle with analogies to illustrate how rewarding it is to be an everyday part of the life of the coolest person in the entire world. Someday, I hope, my friends will understand.