On Sunday, we will celebrate motherhood. And the truth is, I’m just a novice. When I look back on your first year of life, I fondly remember your first smile, your first roll, and your first steps. But, mostly, I remember feeling inadequate. Depressed. Exhausted. Lonely and sick. Anxious, even. And I often wonder, still, how I survived it. Well, days like Mother’s Day remind me. It was my own mother who saved me. I’d say she was like the yin to my yang, but let’s be honest: she was every last bite of the black and white in my motherhood cookie.
It was around the time that you were two weeks old that hell-on-earth began. I had a uterine infection from my cesarian section and you wouldn’t latch. Daddy had just gone back to work, but I was deluded into thinking I could hold down the fort, albeit with around 10% of my sanity intact. And then it happened.
You cried. And cried. And screamed. And it didn’t stop.
At first, I was worried that you were hurting and I felt insecure about my ability to make you happy. But fast forward three hours and I was angry. I placed you in your crib, locked the door, and called my mother. “I can’t do it,” I sobbed. “I wanted to just shake her. And it scared me that I felt that way. I put her in her crib, but I can’t go in there. She just won’t STOP!”
Within minutes she was on my doorstep.
You might think the story had a happy ending there. And in many ways, it did. But, Eva, you didn’t stop crying for your Nanny either. But she stayed with you. Rocked you and sang to you calmly. And not for a moment did I see even a bubble of anger boil within her. It was in that moment that I became aware of two things: you have the lungs of Amy Winehouse herself and 2. motherhood is like wine: you get better with age.
It’s been more than three years since I’ve been serving in the trenches. That might sound horribly negative to you but, really, I don’t mean it that way. Most days are hard and I feel like I’m constantly dodging bullets. You are just as headstrong today as you were then and sometimes I’m not sure who, exactly, is in command. But each day is also filled with pride. An enormous, all-encompassing, “to die for” type of pride. There’s that, and there’s also this glaring fact that I couldn’t keep fighting in these trenches alone. For me, it’s your Nanny that has been my steady right-hand soldier.
So when Sunday morning comes along, I will wake up and think not about what I deserve, or about how much time I should spend with you or without you. Because Sunday isn’t my birthday. It’s a celebration of selflessness and camaraderie. I will think of your Nanny, but I will also think of every young mother who is fighting in these trenches alone; the soldiers who have lost their comrades along the way. I will take a moment to be amazed by their strength. I will then think of all of their colicky babies who have gone unshaken, and I will salute them.
And for a moment, I will think of my own journey through motherhood. It has taken me to so many places I never thought I would go. Some have been amazing. Some have been treacherous, and yet others have been lonely. But each place it has brought me has had just one thing in common: humility. Because if there is any place on earth that will put your ass in your seat, I promise you it’s called “Motherhood.”
Though the day is really not about me, Eva, I’d be lying if I told you I don’t want anything. Because there is just one thing that I would love. It’s for all of the mothers that operate under the pretense of a perfect life to take their heads out of their asses for just one day, and join the rest of us in saluting one another for surviving the grit and grind with pride. And to wish that we all see Sunday bring that occasional flicker of sky-high joy.