When you become a mum for the first time, the whole experience is so utterly overwhelming that you’re completely marooned in the moment that is happening right then. You can pretty much only think about sleep: when your baby will sleep, when you’ll get some sleep. You foolishly think you’ve got this motherhood lark sorted once your baby sleeps through the night.
Fast forward a few years and you realise that sleep is only a small piece of the puzzle. There are a million more challenges that await you on a daily basis. Getting dressed (the kids, not you, although that can be a feat some days), feeding them (then swiftly scraping it into the bin) and negotiating tantrums (toddlers don’t negotiate).
The early years of motherhood are hard. They’re physically demanding because small children need you to do everything for them. In your pre-motherhood days you’d daydream about those shoes you had to have. Now? You dream of simpler things, like the day your children can wash themselves and you are absolved from bath time and sitting on the toilet drinking gin, just to ease the pain.
The thing is, I’m almost certain that when our kids reach their tween and teenage years and can wash themselves (hopefully), we’re going to look back on this time, just as we looked back on that first year of motherhood, and wonder what we found so hard. Because whilst the early years may be physically tough, I’m not sure I’m ever going to be ready for the mental battle that is sure to accompany life with two teenage girls and a teenage boy.
Only this week, I had a little insight into what might lay in store. As my six year old declared that she is in love. This love affair has now been going on for five days during which they have held hands and she has graffitied his name all over her bedroom in thick blue pen. The walls. The curtains. The duvet. ‘I hope you’re still going to love him in 10 years,’ I said upon discovering her artwork. ‘Why?’ she said. ‘Because that’s how long you’re going to have his name plastered all over your room.’ And you just know that she’s going to be that girl who impulsively tattoos the name of every boy she ever loves on her body and has 30 names crossed through by the time she’s 25. By which time, I will look back on this bedroom graffiti episode and laugh, wishing that was the extent of my parenting problems.
So, in order to survive, our only choice as mothers is to accept that we must constantly evolve. To welcome in a new set of challenges as we’re closing the door on the last. There’s no time to get comfortable and I doubt there’s ever going to be a day when we can sit back and say, “I’m finished now. I’ve cracked it. My work here is done.”
Being a mum is more than a job. It’s a lifetime’s vocation. It’s a commitment to willingly putting someone before yourself forevermore. No matter what. In that, we have no choice.
Because this thing called motherhood is unconditional love in its very purest form.
Checkout Amy’s blog, Surviving Motherhood (www.amyransom.com) where she portrays motherhood in an honest and hilarious light. You can also find her on her Facebook page (www.facebook.com/amyransomwrites), far too often.