The most rewarding, fulfilling, and magical journey of your life: motherhood. Once you get through the long hours of labor, back pain and the pushing and ripping of your lady parts, that is. Luckily for me I had a cesarean section so that was only a giant slice in my abdomen for doctors to rip an eight and a half -pound human being out of my womb. Now I am embarking on this journey of life with my little one. I dreamed of the days where I would be living out the life of the mother you see in magazines and television commercials. I thought I could be the smiling, glowing mother who somehow is still a size two even after giving birth just a month or two earlier. The mother without a single trace of any bags under her eyes and not a hair out of place in her perfectly constructed ponytail is the mother I had in mind that I would be. Well my friends, I am here to tell you that is a load of crap. That is not motherhood, and it never will be.
It’s 2:13 a.m. and I literally roll out of bed mumbling a few curse words as I try not to wake my husband who is sound asleep, getting his eight hours of snooze time in before waking up nice and refreshed for the next day. I’m just kidding; I purposely make a lot of noise walking across the hall to get the screaming infant because I’m trying to wake him. Let’s be honest, it’s totally unfair he gets uninterrupted sleep while I sit up multiple times during the night to feed baby. Throwing the covers off loud enough to wake sleeping beauty beside me is an innocent gesture he deserves. It’s payback for him not having to get up, at least he has to wake up even if it’s only for a minute or two. I’m not quite sure how mothers before cellphones were able to stay awake. I need the blinding light of my phone screen to keep my eyes opened. But after about an hour of my little sweet angel kicking and squirming like he’s a cat I’m holding in a bathtub full of water, he finally gives up and falls back asleep. Back to his crib he goes for another, hopefully, three hours of sleep before he’s up again. This is where I make a reference to the mother on TV without bags under her eyes. This is where I call that a lie. There is no mother of a newborn (or a three month old for that matter) that doesn’t have bags under her eyes. I’m convinced that is absolutely impossible because sleeping is absolutely impossible. “Your infant will sleep 14-16 hours a day for the first six months or so.” That’s the horrible false hope the nurses give you in the hospital. My son sleeps maybe eight hours a day and by “day” I mean in a 24-hour period.
“True beauty lies beneath the surface.” I tell myself as I look in the mirror. Yeah, right. The only thing that “lies beneath” is beneath my fingernails and that’s Desitin. That’s probably my fault though because yes, I admit you won’t usually catch me washing my hands after a diaper change. Is my hair still wet from my shower? Oh, wait, I haven’t showered in three days that’s just grease. I think I can cover it with a headband. For a minute I think I should change my sweatpants since I’ve been wearing them longer than the three days I’ve been without a shower. I only have that thought for a minute, though. I’ll keep them on a little bit longer there are only a few stains on them. Did I brush my teeth this morning? I’m not sure, but who cares, the only person I’m going to get close enough for him to be able to smell my breath today can’t even talk yet so he can’t tell me my breath stinks. “True beauty lies beneath the surface.” I tell myself once more, as I give my oily hair a flip and off to the store I go.
There used to be quick trips to the grocery store. I could go to the store two or three times a week if I wanted to. Now I go to the store once every 9-12 days and buy like I’ve got a family of thirty to feed. The key to shopping with baby is to pile as much food into your cart as possible to prolong the amount of time between your grocery store trips. It’s like an art form, really, or even a game. It’s called, “see how much you can stack around your baby and his giant car seat in the cart before you completely cover him and overflow”, and take it from an expert, it takes skills. Actually, it takes skills to stuff more than some green beans and a frozen pizza in the cart with a car seat. Those things are ginormous.
Thanks to my wonderful mom, there are those rare occasions my husband and I get to go out just the two of us. It feels strange to look at myself with make up on and my hair done. I almost don’t even recognize myself. Wow, has my hair really grown two inches since the last time I wore it down and straightened it? I think to myself. The car ride is weird as well but my usual anxiety of waiting for the baby to start screaming in the backseat soon fades and I actually feel myself relax. I close my eyes and enjoy the music playing on the radio. Then I realize something devastating. I tell my husband, “I forgot my breast pump.” Breastfeeding moms know the horrible feeling of leaving home without baby and without the pump. When leaving your baby for more than three hours, a breast pump is almost more important than the oxygen you need to breathe. Without the pump, the only thing in your future are giant, leaky boobs and a shirt so wet that it looks like you dumped a bottle of water down the front of you. Forgetting the pump leads to missing all of the fun you’re supposed to be having because you end up in the bathroom squeezing your boobs into the sink for half an hour. “We have to turn around.” I finish telling my husband.
Don’t get me wrong there are some perks to being a mom. For example, my arms look amazing thanks to carrying my twenty-pound baby around in his huge, also twenty-pound car seat. The woman who used to be able to chug a 12 pack of beer and still be halfway okay could now get a buzz off of just one beer, so that’s also a plus. That saves me calories and money. Plus, most of the time I’m so busy with baby or attempting to keep the house clean in the few short minutes I get when I don’t have to entertain him, that I just forget to eat. That also saves calories. Maybe that’s how magazine mom is a size two so quickly after having a baby.
In all seriousness, being “mom” is the best possible title in the world. Nothing compares to holding your baby tight and rocking him or her to sleep. When they actually do sleep more than two or three hours at a time, you wake up and a little part of you wishes they would too because you miss them and just want to look at them as they fall back to sleep in your arms. Nothing can compare to the smell of your squishy little baby after a bath; I mean nothing can compare to that. Motherhood is hard. Motherhood is rewarding. Motherhood is loving a little tiny human more than you ever thought possible. Motherhood is throwing back a glass of wine at ten in the morning because you already need it to get through the day. Motherhood is having to do eleven loads of laundry in one afternoon because you forgot to do it for two weeks and your husband is starting to complain about having to wear dirty clothes to work… again. Motherhood is truly, absolutely, undoubtedly the most beautiful experience there is.