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When I was a child I wanted to be a vet. Then I discovered my tendency to pass out at the sight of blood.
Then I wanted to be an artist, then a graphic designer. Then an architect. Finally, an engineer.
In my quiet, in between moments, I imagined being a writer.
Through all of that, I never dreamt of being a mother.
I was late to that. Possibly even reluctant.
Until I met my husband, I hadn’t considered children. The thought of them hadn’t formed. I had mellowed from the teenager who proclaimed she didn’t want children, ever, into a young adult who simply didn’t factor them in. I had a career, friends; a fun and free life.
I suspect that I was not alone in that view of the world in my twenties, but I had never had that one day feeling that so many of my friends described. I had no maternal hankering; no dream of babies to cradle, toddlers to tickle, children to cherish. I simply had no desire.
I had no nieces or nephews, no baby cousins, few friends with children. I had avoided holding or playing with babies. Frankly, they scared me. I had little patience, and even less interest.
As my twenties drew to a close I began to think; perhaps, maybe, some day, I guess. But there was still no solidity to those thoughts.
After I met my husband, I was as surprised as anyone when I realised that having children with him seemed like the most obvious thing in the world.
I had my first child a few months before I turned 33.
I had absolutely no idea what it meant to be a mother.
In an abstract sense, I knew that our lives changed the moment my husband and I decided to try for our first. That when I fell pregnant, we held responsibility for another life.
But, emotionally, I had no clue.
And, those first few months with my oldest? They were hard. Really hard.
After a somewhat traumatic and completely exhausting birth, I was left with this screaming, gorgeous, hungry, relentless, amazing, terrifying little person. I arrived on the ward at 11pm, in shock from surgery, still numb from the waist down, and was left alone. It wasn’t a good start.
Four days in hospital broke me and I went home exhausted, overwhelmed, emotional and scared. And only a little bit in love.
Wasn’t it supposed to be immediate, that rush of love? Wasn’t it supposed to be magical? Wasn’t I supposed to know how to be a mother?
Of course, I know now that it isn’t always immediate. That it is scary and hard and overwhelming. That it can take time. And it did.
It was easier the second time, and even easier the third. Of course, each child has had their own challenges; our second didn’t sleep through the night until he was two, our third throws the most spectacular tantrums.
But the early days were different. And for that I am grateful, even as I mourn moments missed with my first.
I adore my children, they are by far the best thing that has ever happened to me. But, I am not a natural. It still doesn’t come easily to me.
I constantly question what it takes to be a mother, or at least, a good one.
I shout too much, I am still impatient and I am truly awful at playing imaginary games.
I get frustrated and bored and tired. I get grumpy.
But, I also bake and craft and paint with them. I take them to the park, to activities, to play dates. I arrange parties and make birthday cakes. I help them with their homework. I chat to them about their days. I hold them when they’re sad and I kiss their hurts away. I discipline them and I teach them. I protect them.
I am interested. I am invested.
In a million little ways I am their mother. In my thoughts, my actions, my priorities, my focus.
And perhaps that’s all it takes to be a mother, an imperfect one, but the only one they need.
You can find this weeks #ThePrompt linky here. I do hope this week’s prompt inspired you; I look forward to reading your posts.