No one can explain what it’s like to have children. Once I (literally) pushed my children out into the world my life became something completely different. I belonged to them, sometimes more than I belonged to myself. I fell down the rabbithole of parenthood where everything is turned on its head. I’ve been a mother for five and a half years now. Without fail, every day I have a moment in which I am still overcome with amazement that my children are here, perhaps compounded by the two high-risk pregnancies that brought them into the world.
It’s impossible to explain how deeply I love them, intuitively, animalistically like a mama tiger, sometimes at the expense of myself. Once at the airport I was carrying my son, then two years old. One arm was full of toddler and the other full of baggage. I tripped. It’s an amazing thing, but I somehow managed to completely wrap myself around my son so that he would not be hurt in the fall (he wasn’t). At the same time, I didn’t brace myself or try to minimize my own injury in the fall. I fell squarely on one knee, arms wrapped around my boy. My knee was terribly bruised and hurt for weeks. My reaction took only a second but it spoke volumes to me. I would sacrifice my safety for theirs without a moment’s delay, without deliberation or thought. New instincts to protect my children had usurped my instincts of self-preservation that had developed over decades. That is part of what it’s like to be a parent.
It is these same instincts that cause us to sometimes go months or even years without a date if there isn’t a babysitter that meets our impossibly high standards for caring for OUR children. It’s the stamina that keeps us cradling a sick child though sleep-deprived nights. It’s the reason that we sometimes don’t eat when we’re hungry or sleep when we’re exhausted. We give up or alter our careers just to spend more time with our children, or maybe so they have a little less time in daycare. We breastfeed through soreness. We miss exciting social events, films, concerts. We quietly go without. Parenthood.
For this, we get something priceless. The special smile from a baby, just for us. Being the first word that they ever say. The joyful running into our arms. Being the magic that calms the tears when they fall. Being the irreplaceable comfort they return to as they get older.
I’ve given up plenty of things, but I’ve gained immeasurably more in being a mama. It’s hard to explain it beyond that.
How would YOU explain parenthood?