To My Sister, On the Eve of Motherhood

It’s easy, motherhood.

They will all tell you how hard it is.  The sleepless nights, the potty training, the tantrums and sore nipples and the inability to get five minutes by yourself for the rest of your life. When you become tired and irritable, and ask for advice, they tell you, “you just wait until they’re older.”  There will be grumbling and complaints from well-intentioned parents meant to prepare you for the inevitable frustrations to come.  They will lament the lost date nights and curse the extra laundry.  They’ll reminisce about the last time they ate hot food with two hands while seated without sharing, and won’t be able to remember the last time they had a shower alone. They’ll complain that every single decision they make must take into account the schedule, emotional state, physical health, and meltdown potential of another human being.  They’ll say, Parenting is Hard.

But of course I’ve said it.  We all say it.  The details are hard, sure.  Should we vaccinate for chicken pox?  Pocket diaper or all-in-one?  Is he ready for this car seat yet?  Home school or public school?  How high should we let this fever get?

That stuff sucks. And so does the other stuff sometimes.  Most of the time.  Being a parent is complicated. It’s tiresome and confusing and awkward.  But not hard.  There’s really only one thing that matters about being a mom, and that’s the love part.   And that comes all by itself.  You need no practice, no history, no preparation.

When I was pregnant with Patton, I worried that I wouldn’t love him enough.  Isn’t that crazy?  I thought that there was some secret everyone else had to being a good mom, and there would never be a way for me to figure it out.  I thought I wasn’t cut out for this, that I was a fraud, and that soon the day would come where I epic-ally messed up this tiny life growing inside me.

But in those moments, I was still hung up on which diapers to choose, and what shots to get.  I worried that I wouldn’t have the money to sign my son up for the right classes.  I worried the other moms would have their shit together and I’d be the one dragging my kid in late to soccer practice again.  I measured my insides up against other people’s outsides.

And again when pregnant with Charlie, I worried my love wouldn’t double the right way.  I kept dark secrets thinking nothing would be right, that surely I had gotten lucky with Patton, and that it was obviously pushing my luck to think I could keep TWO children alive at the same time.  I thought of all the reasons my love wouldn’t be enough.  But it is.

It is the love that drives everything.  Sometime soon, you’ll find yourself swollen with it, this unimaginable shaking of your foundation that folds your heart over and etches tiny marks into it only to unfold it again, but this time wider, and beautiful, like paper snowflakes.  It will overwhelm you and leave room for nothing else.  The love will make your decisions, ease your transition, guide your conscience, and forgive your mistakes.  When the guilt of being imperfect consumes you, and you’ve hidden in a closet for the third time this week just to be able to finish your own 3-hour-old dry ham sandwich, and no one in the house has clean clothes because you forgot to dry them last night in your sleepy stupor, you’ll still grin wide in the face of your beloved little one, overjoyed just to behold their presence, because nothing else really exists in the world without them anyway.  How could it?

So really, the only thing that matters will come without effort.  The rest of it…well.  I’ll let you know when someone figures that out.

Welcome to this new place.  It will suit you, perfectly.

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One response to “To My Sister, On the Eve of Motherhood

  1. “I measured my insides up against other people’s outsides.”

    I love that. So much. Thank you for your vulnerability and authenticity.

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