Fritz Zuber Buhler. Girl feeding her doll
I mastered to perfection level every single detail a mother needs to know until husband and I decided to expand our family.
I mean it: EVERYTHING.
I had all motherly skills you can imagine, from infinite patience to unconditional love, from breastfeeding readiness to chef cooking abilities (husband doubted that part, though. But I knew I was going to delight my kids with every dish). I could meet any challenge finding the best solution to all sort of life situations and I used to boast about it.
I didn´t notice then, but I really went around boasting about it. Proudly standing on my perfection pedestal I would judge almost every single mother for their mistakes. How can she loose her temper like that? How can she put her kid aside to keep talking to her friend at the coffee shop? How could she wait for her husband to come back home to complain about her difficult day, about kids behavior, about feeling frustrated? Motherhood is life´s hightlight, how does she dare to complain?
Ok, I had been practicing to become a mom since I was age 3. Maybe they hadn´t. So I even dared to feel some compassion.
Then, the first month I didn´t get pregnant I suddenly became a mass of uncontrolled emotions that altered my nervous system to unknown heights and depths at the same time. Husband was worried (about me? about himself??). Under normal circumstances I´m a happy, smiling, fresh and calm person. But now I was hysterical.
Maybe just to save our marriage, the next month pregnancy test showed two beautiful soft pink lines the day after I missed my period. I was restored to normal (husband relieved). To normal did I say? Oh, poor man. He didn´t imagine what was coming next. The first three or four days I was radiant, shining like the moon and the sun together, smiling to everyone on the street and “feeling” the new life growing safe and sound in my womb. So I put a bit on weight to show everyone my belly, I felt dizzy, I had nausea all day (forget about morning sickness, that wasn´t enough for me), I cried and laughed for uncertain reasons and suddenly I started doubting… Doubting my body, doubting my emotions, doubting my mental health, doubting nature. So I started reading to solve my doubts.
By the time my first boy was about to be born I had read a real size piramid of books which drove me safely to motherhood insanity. There were so many “professional” opinions as there are stars in the sky, as so many diverse experiences as water drops in the ocean. And all claimed to bear the flag of final, unquestionable truth. Inspired by them, I started listing my brand new motherhood decisions: I wanted to give birth naturally. Caesar section was unimaginable. I din´t want to receive epidural anesthesia, I wanted to breast feed my baby immediately after birth, I wanted to avoid hospitalization and keep my baby with me from the moment he was born onwards, forever after… Husband patiently listened to my loud voice thoughts, listed my wishes and promised he was going to stand by my side to grant and protect my rights…
Oh! How afraid I was to become a mother. I protected my fear with a thick coat of bookish knowledge and argumentative talk, so no one would notice I DID NOT KNOW how to be a mother. It took me a long time until I finally realized I was a complete ignorant on the matter. I recognized I was afraid of becoming a mother and accepted the fact that I needed to slow down my crazy mind and listen to my heart, that part of me which had kept silence all the way, from the very beginning of this story, waiting for me in its nonjudgmental characteristic mood.
But I did not find this revelations on my own. Oh, no! My first baby gently and consistently guided me in the introductory steps of this awesome discovering.
I defended breastfeeding on demand so he called me every two hours day and night for months, and months and months.
I defended not letting babies cry, so he wouldn´t fall asleep if not being in my arms.
I defended safe attachment, so he wouldn´t like being alone not even when I needed to pee or have a bath.
I had dreams of men wanting to breastfeed (imagine husband´s look when I told him?).
I was exhausted and really desperate. I knew there was nothing wrong with my baby, but big changes needed to be done… with me.
Today, nine years after that life long transforming experience that motherhood has meant for me, I´m more than happy to recognize I´m as simple and common as a mother can be, far, far away from perfection. A while ago a young, sweet, smiling new neighbor approached my husband with true concern to warn him the nanny had been yelling (yes, yelling) to one of our boys the day before.
We have no nannies. It was me.
This is something I´m not proud about and I do my real best to avoid going into loosing my temper like that. It´s an exceptional situation, I know. I must also admit this has happened here and then since I became a mom.
Saying this is not easy for me, the “good old days perfect mom”. But I´m not perfect any more, I´m not free of all human eventual frustrations and emotional influences. I do have freedom, though. I´m free to accept myself as I am, no arrogance coats, no masks. As good as it gets. This prevents me from creating false images about myself and allows me to see what I really have, what needs to be changed, what is alright.
After divine love, I don´t think there´s a mightier love on earth than the love a parent feels for his/her child, a love that can move mountains and fulfill the most difficult task on earth: the transformation of a human heart. At least that´s what has happened to me.
You might think I´m exaggerating when sharing my story and you´re right. I´m an exaggerated person. But don´t worry. Since I´m not perfect anymore I can live with that.