Mother’s Day

Today is, kind of, my first mother’s day.  I’m definitely someone’s mother, but he hasn’t been born yet.  So, it kind of counts.

The experience of being pregnant has given me a whole new appreciation for my own mother, and for all mothers (but mine in particular).  Being pregnant is hard work.  Physically, it’s very difficult.  Emotionally, it’s a wild ride, too.  Giving birth is going to be even harder, both physically and emotionally.  But really, that’s very small in comparison to everything else it means to be a mother.  It means truly committing to put yourself aside for someone else — forever.  I’m not trying to say that I’m going to give my life up completely when my baby is born.  I’m still going to be who I am.  I’m still going to pursue my dreams, follow my passions.  But there’s no doubt that the priorities have changed, in a very fundamental way.

People talk about the “sacrifice” that parents make for their children.  Granted, I’m new at this, but I don’t think sacrifice is the right word.  So far, all of the things I’ve put aside for myself in order to make my baby happy or comfortable (things like being physically comfortable, being able to sleep, dancing competitively, horseback riding, relaxing weekends, time with my husband) and all the things I know I’ll have to do in the future (sleepless nights, dealing with financial pressures, changing careers, early mornings, even less time with my husband) don’t really feel like sacrificing.  I want to do all of these things for my baby.  I don’t feel tortured or deprived.  I do feel stressed, a bit, but I also feel excited, satisfied and happy.  I don’t feel like I’m sacrificing myself to be a mother.  I do feel like I’m giving a lot of myself to my child.  My energy, my body, my health (in some ways), my money, my time, etc. are all being given to him, and he’s not even here yet.  But I am so happy and willing to do it.

Not to say that I think every moment is going to feel like a fabulous, selfless, generous experience.  I’m sure there will be times (I’ve had them already) when I feel like all I want is to go back to the way things were before.  But those moments are fleeting and insincere.  It took me a long time (about 30 years) to get to a place where I was even sure I wanted children.  But now I can’t figure out what I was waiting for.  I feel so content in my decision.  Too content to consider my life now as a sacrifice.

It’s this realization that changes my perception of my own mother.  I’ve often felt guilt about her not having more time or money to spend on herself, sometimes even about the path her life has taken.  Guilt is the wrong emotion — guilt would go well with sacrifice.  Instead I now just feel so grateful, and loved.  I never really understood before that however hard being a parent may be, when they say they wouldn’t have it any other way, they mean that.  It’s not just a trite thing to say, it’s real.  Being a parent to a child is the most incredible gift any person can give to another.  It is a gift that comes from every part of who they are.

So, thanks mom.  I never really got it before.  I didn’t understand.  I’m sure there’s still a lot for me to understand — my baby isn’t even here yet.  But I understand the gift I’ve been given in a way I couldn’t comprehend before.  Thank you.  I appreciate it so much.  And I love you, too.

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