[ Most recent pic of me & The Whuff. Yep. Blurry elevator self portrait with iPhone. Keeping it real. ]
I’m writing this from my couch this morning, where I am trying valiantly not too cough too loud. Paulo and I both have chest colds this week and my seal bark of a cough (which Nuno says actually sounds like “the cough of a dying homeless dog” which, thanks) frightens him. He’s not here right now – he’s in his crib due to some tantrum issues and we’re all having a moment of quiet time before going back for round two. In any case, it’s a small apartment and the sound carries and I’m trying really, really hard to keep the barking to a minimum.
It’s really the most maternal way to spend Mother’s Day. Up at 6AM with a crying, coughing tot to try and distract him with Pingu so that his father can sleep in a little longer (Oh yes, Nuno is still sleeping. This is actually in my own self-interest as the later I let him sleep, the longer I get to take a nap when he does get up for the Whuffle Hand Off.) – sitting together on the couch, having his Stinkiest Bear pressed in my face, and trying not to cough because I don’t want him to get scared.
[ COUGH. ]
When people talk about motherhood being “hard,” often what’s understood is the day in day out general tedium and drudgery of constant small human maintenance. And yes, that’s tough, but it’s not the end of the world. The 24/7 relentlessness is certainly a very different dynamic from having a difficult job from which you can then go home at the end of the day, but really – this is not the hardest part of motherhood, to me.
What’s hard about motherhood is that it puts you in touch of every. single. aspect. of being a human – whether you like it or not, there you are. Plunged into the deep end of the human experience and you’d best start swimming as there’s nothing here to cling to. In motherhood, I’ve felt the most anger and seething rage – wrapped up in loving a person more than I do the air I breathe. It’s every emotion all at once. It’s the adrenaline rush of picking up your sick child even though you yourself were lying on the bathroom floor not half an hour ago, and not even caring that you now have vomit in your ear, or even realizing how bad you yourself feel until the child is soothed and you are once again released from the hormone rush back into your normal human form.
It’s holding a sick kiddo to your chest when you yourself have been up hacking and sputtering for hours and trying not to cough. You still feel your own sickness just as acutely, but the empathy you feel for that little person who can’t comprehend that mama has lungs that are all clogged up too, rises above it. Trying to balance finding your own cough syrup with finding the sippy cups and leaving the couch long enough to make some tea while being available enough to maintain constant contact at all times. The balance is always there, even when it’s not as amplified as it is when managing illnesses, but that balance between maintaining your own self as a person and inhabiting motherhood – that’s hard.
It’s hard to find out that there are parts of yourself you don’t really like. That there are emotions swirling inside of you that you’re not proud of, that you didn’t know you were capable of. It’s also hard to be so engulfed with love for another human being that you feel slightly guilty that they were ever born because being born means you’ll die someday. It’s hard to care so much about someone that you wish that you could have their stomach flus for them.
And this is where, in the great formula of blog posts, I wrap it all up by saying “it’s so worth it.” And it is. And it’s great. And yes, the greatness is directly correlated to the difficulty level. I wanted a child for so many years before I had one that I tried to temper my enthusiasm a bit – so that I wouldn’t be disappointed if motherhood wasn’t “all that.” (AM I SCANDINAVIAN OR WHAT.) I still look at Paulo and can’t believe that he’s real, that he’s here, that I had a hand in creating a whole person. He babbles or signs “mama” and I can’t believe it’s really me.
Someone else will have to take over and provide you with some sort of cunning conclusion because now, our quiet time is over and I have to go and snuggle and soothe and play trucks and not cough.