Nothing prepares you. Not really. No amount of reading. No amount of conversation with friends or family. No amount of time spent with nieces, nephews, children of friends. Nothing truly prepares you for becoming a mother except the act of creation and birth itself.
Well, to be more accurate, not even birth can prepare you; it is what comes after that makes one a mother; the endless days of feeding, cuddling, dressing, washing, chores, songs, stories, late nights and early mornings, dedication to extra-curricular after school activities, trips to the park, tears and tantrums, questions and exploration of everything.
At least that’s what I have found. And even then, motherhood is a fluid experience; changing and evolving as both yourself and your child grow. Yes, there it is – as you BOTH grown and change.
When I look back nearly five years ago, I see a woman who was facing the experience of bringing life into the world with excitement, trepidation, nerves, joy and a deep sense of isolation. The knowledge that women had been becoming mothers for generations beyond count did little to alleviate my worries – least of all about the birthing experience, more about how well I would cope once my long awaited child had arrived. Would I be a good role model? Would I nurture my child with tenderness and encouragement? Would I be one of these stressed out mothers flitting around with little in the way of sanity left or would I (hopefully) be serene; a picture of strength and composure?
I had so many hopes in the beginning. So many PLANS……of how it would be. An apparently perfect experience where my baby would grow into this calm, compassionate, confident yet reasonable individual full of passion and curiosity.
Well the last two certainly apply! What was I thinking? I was forgetting that although I may have bought this wonderful person into this world, given them the gift of life, they are themselves a unique expression of energy and creativity and my how I have fought within inner battles ever since. Berating myself for not being a good enough person/mother/role-model to this bundle of energy, passion, inquisitiveness that shares my life with me.
Nothing and no one prepared me for the waves of guilt that follow me everyday. “I should have done this, why did I do that, he’s only three/four/five, you’re expecting too much, don’t dump your own unresolved crap onto this perfect little soul” and “if only I had more money I could do this/that/everything thing else for them”.
Having my life blessed by the presence of my child has been the greatest experience that I have known. It has bought so much joy and happiness, love and an overwhelming sense of gratitude. And oh the outpouring of love! Some days I look at my boy and the love that swells is unfathomable. And yet with the experience has come a whole host of stuff that I have not dealt with well into my adult years.
Children, through no responsibility on their part have an uncanny ability to make us face our own fears and our own demons. They challenge us as individuals to look deep within our own self and question our reactions, responses and motivation to life and all that it entails.
I sometimes wonder that perhaps it is not us as adults who are the teachers and mentors for our children but that in fact it is the other way around. My son has taught me so much. About myself, about how to see the world of which I am a part of in a new light. About tolerance, acceptance, compassion, patience.
Everyday is a rollercoaster of emotion, for both of us. For my son as he learns to integrate into a physical way of being, with all of its boundaries and limitations that the ego perceives to be real. For me in learning to let these boundaries go and find peace in the knowledge that this physical life and all of its emotional responses are not IT, they are not the defining model of an human existence.
Children are ethereal by nature, not limited by rules, protocol, organised society. They are in the moment, without judgement and driven by love. As adults we lose our curiosity and we become ever more incarcerated by the model way of living – limiting our experiences by what may be approved by our peers. We forget to see the magic and the beauty that surrounds us everywhere. We lose our desire to learn and we forget the origins of our existence beyond a physical body. The body becomes US, we become defined by our body, how we dress it, present it and utilise it to lead an apparently successful life.
Having my life enriched by the presence of my son has opened my eyes to the origin of my existence and to living a wonder-filled life not limited by the boundaries that the mind sets forth. It has reminded me and woken me up to the fact that we all too often become slaves to the physical parameters that in fact offer us very little freedom.
Freedom comes from the wide-eyed, loving, unhindered capacity to simply BE that is witnessed in young children. When do we lose this? I hope my son never loses his enjoyment of the beauty of nature and all SHE has to offer us.