Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mother's Day

Parenting is a joy and a burden. Do I hear several 'Amen's in the crowd, as well as commiserating murmurs? Yes, I thought so.

In honor of today, Mother's Day, I bring to you a post I wrote some time back that was supposed to be a guest post on another blog, but never got around to it. Musings on my own insane crotch-spawn. Yes, I called my son a crotch spawn, get over it....

When you have your first child, everyone you know is quick to offer advice, tips, and tricks to help make that first month or so easier. Well, as easy as possible: the simplest tasks, like making a pot of coffee, become a hectic game of “beat the clock”. Will he fall back asleep while the pot is brewing? Can I steal a few minutes to down a cup? Gosh, I’m just so tired…!

All this advice is given, but no one ever really tells you the things you need to know. They all tell you, “You’re going to lose a lot of sleep,” but not a word is mentioned about just how far a human body can go on two hours of rest. You become super-human, discovering reserves of strength and energy, helping you to do dishes, try to clean house, make speedy runs to the store for more diapers or wipes. By the time you finally do get to catch a nap, you feel as if you could sleep for days. How come no one ever warned me about that?

We’ve all heard (and witnessed) the “Mother Bear Syndrome”: come between me and my child, and lives will be lost. Hearing the stories and truly living them is another matter entirely. Thank whatever deity exists, my son has never been threatened, but there have been nights early in his young life where I have woken up in a cold sweat from a nightmare of having my child taken away from me. And it wasn’t even a kidnapper that did it: Child Protective Services had deemed me unfit to raise my child and brought a foster family to my home to take him. Kidnapping may not be that common an occurrence any more, but with the way the world has turned, when it has reached the point of spanking your child gets you arrested, that particular bad dream could happen all too easily. I have never felt such a strong instinct to protect at all costs, and it can be shocking the first time you realize it has hit you too.

When you have friends who have spawned before you, they are always gushing about this milestone or that. You smile and offer congratulations, but deep down, you really don’t understand what the big deal is, am I right? That too gets flipped on its head when you bring life into this world. The first smile, or the first time your son or daughter responds to their name… It’s magical. You would willingly throw your life away to ensure happiness for this tiny pink bundle, swaddled in blankets and cute clothes. You make so many sacrifices to try and make life better for them with no guarantee that it will pay off in any way, shape or form, but then one day they look at you and their lips curve, their face lights up, and all you can feel is the instant explosion of happiness and joy: he smiled at Mommy. He knows you’re talking to him. He knows the scent of you, the sound of your voice. And suddenly, all the sleepless nights, the frantic worry, the hope you can make a better tomorrow, as cheesy and cliché as THAT might sound, all become worth it.

Parenting is by no stretch of the imagination easy, and to some people, the reward it brings may not justify the sacrifices you make. But that little smile, to those who do have children of their own to brighten their day, means more than the world.

Happy Mother's Day, folks.

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