I originally wrote this last summer and it was featured on SJ's The Mama Cave, but when I reread it, it reminds me of why I love to write and why I will continue to write about everything until I die. I've been in a bit of a writing slump these past few weeks, lacking in ideas and motivation, but will be back very soon with something new. <3
I’m a bit of a paradox. I always imagined I would have kids, at least one daughter, but I would roam through my life, picking up and taking off whenever I felt like it, trying not to become too attached to anyone, soaring away any time I felt trapped. When I turned 34 I suddenly realized that I probably would never have children, and actually felt at peace with that. I liked my life in New York City, I loved my crazy lifestyle and the whirlwinds and the ups and downs and the all-around colourful pictures I painted of it all.
A few months after that realization I found out that I was pregnant. Only a few weeks along, but very much pregnant. Fear raced through my heart and images shot through my brain, but after a five minute talk my partner and I knew that no matter what, we were going to be parents. No more alcohol, no more cigarettes, no more running around from bar to bar after work and no more eating here and there, if and when I remembered to be hungry. I went from free-spirited party girl to responsible adult as soon as I saw that pink line appear and haven’t really looked back. Nostalgia can be a lovely feeling, but that lifestyle had been getting old anyway, and I will never regret taking a huge step back and focusing on life and love.
Motherhood came easily to me. The aches and pains and sleep deprivation not so much, but the nurturing and that heart-crushing and earth-shattering love did. During those first few months it was impossible for me to see the bigger picture, what mama meant to me then was holding my tiny high-needs infant all day and all night and never wanting to let her go. It was a force that stripped me bare and built me up, my instincts grew sharper, my confidence waxed and waned and my worries deepened. I noticed that my focus on the world in general deepened again, my activist instincts whirred back into place and I felt more focused and possessed by a conviction that I would do anything to make sure my daughter grew up in a better world than the one we currently live in. I wanted my legacy to be one of many who at least tried (and that still stands today).
Despite the fact that I didn’t sleep more than an hour a night in three months, that my child continued to nurse around the clock and that it took me ages to heal from a difficult childbirth, for some strange (insane) reason both my partner and I wanted another child. At 4am when he would come home from work and find us both wide awake we would sit and eat ice cream and talk about our next child’s name and whether we would have another girl or a boy this time. I wanted to go through pregnancy again, this time with less fear, this time with a birth that I was in control of, not one that was induced. We both wanted two little ones to grow up together, close siblings. Family became everything that I had been looking for in my travels and adventures, a grounding point that could lift off at any minute, but never alone anymore, always together.
So, 7 months into motherhood found me yet again pregnant and still nursing my firstborn, overjoyed and excited about the prospect of having another little child in our arms. The pregnancy was different, slower, easier in some ways but so much harder in others. While I wasn’t running up and down managing the restaurant 70 hours a week this time around, I was at home working on different writing projects and trying to be the best mother I could be to my little Luna. By that point motherhood had evolved into something I felt I finally had a handle on, we were all doing OK, but at the same time it started to feel like a bubble waiting to pop. I felt more isolated, stuck in the far end of Queens, unable to actually pick up and run to Coney Island or a show or just brunch with friends due to an always needy baby and what was becoming a bit of a problematic pregnancy. We were all super healthy, but my doctors were concerned about a few issues and didn’t want me to do any lifting or extensive exercise. I didn’t want to become that person who complains about never seeing her friends anymore or feeling stuck in a rut so I surrounded myself and our family with tasks and activities and everything that I wanted us to accomplish before little sister’s arrival. Of course most of those never happened, and those last few weeks of pregnancy involved extra check-ups and gallons and gallons of water and hot, hot summer days where all I wanted to do was nap and scrub floors with bleach.
Aurora came into our lives one bright morning, after I paced the living room, groaning as softly as I could so as not to wake Luna who, for once in her life, was sleeping through the night. Motherhood then became strength and another thunderbolt of that intense love that seems to grow and grow and never stop growing. Motherhood also became messy and disorganized, loud voices and silent screams, toddler tantrums and late night thoughts wondering if we had done the right thing. Two under two makes for a fun hashtag, but a hashtag doesn’t give the term enough justice or depth… On the one hand it is a deep pit full of unknowns and sludge, on the other it is a bouncy cloud on a perfect English summer day, rays of sunshine touching rainbows and pots of gold. I still count my blessings that my partner and I come from a long line of adaptable people, and managed to easily adapt to the changes that another child brought with her birth. Her birth also gave us the strength to make a few decisions that were necessary for the well-being of our family life altogether and for our future happiness.
We moved away from the city that we had adopted as our home for so many years, towards the sunshine and the embrace of family members. California is where my toddler started to speak, finally using the words that she had been storing up inside for months and months, where “mama” became a standard word uttered at least every 3 minutes, and where my baby uttered “mama” for the first time. And my heart still melts every time I hear their sweet voices say it. Oh my gosh, they mean me! I am a MAMA! I am THEIR mama! And I know that just like it has over the past few years, that word will evolve in meaning, but it will continue to melt my heart every single time I hear a little voice saying it. Mama means everything to me, my world, my love and my family. I never thought I would feel this way, but I can’t ever imagine not feeling this way!
And so there it is, for me motherhood is a constant evolution, discovery and sometimes a struggle, but in the end I see endless strength, love and so much patience in the heart of the word. Mama means unconditional love with a few tears and screams along the way.