Motherhood is a badge of honor.
I loved being pregnant.
I felt no shame as the scale rose in number with my first born. As my hips widened. As my stomach grew from a moderate-flat (ish) to a round, hard watermelon. I felt no shame as my curves curved more — and then more again. My face shape changing from square to round. My feet and ankles turning into well-buttered dinner rolls.
I loved the company of the baby within me. I’d talk to him in the shower. My husband sang lullabies to him. We wrote him letters. We dreamed of his face.
When I was out and about, I felt as though the world knew who I was. Like a nun wearing a habit or an engaged woman rocking her big, shiny rock — the baby within me was an outward sign that I was full of love. That I was in love.
That love was in me.
Motherhood is a tribe.
My husband went to a college with a longstanding tradition of pride. He — like most with the same alma mater — still wears his college ring.
We’ve had old men stop him in airports on the other side of the world and say, “Bob Jackson, class of 1960.” They shake hands. They lock eyes. They know something about each other.
I think motherhood is quite the same way — except much more so.
We see each other in line at Chick-Fil-A. We smile encouragingly in cry rooms. We help each other to cars in parking lots. We coo at other babies in restaurants. We may not have been but mild acquaintances at work — and then, a new mom comes back from maternity leave — and we talk openly about breast milk and afterbirth and all sorts of personal anecdotes.
Because one little person has suddenly made us all one tribe.
Motherhood is hard.
With colicky babies in our arms, we’ve sobbed right along with them. We’ve felt disappointed in our own weakness. We’ve wondered if we’re cut out for it. We’ve never felt so vulnerable, so incapable, so unprepared.
I hugged a total stranger at Target last week while she cried with three children in her cart. “It’s so hard,” she said. Her husband was deployed in another country. Her parents were deceased. She felt so alone.
Her 6-year-old turned to me and said, “She cries all the time.” I told her that’s because mommy loves her so much — she can’t contain it within her. It can’t help but pour out.
And that wasn’t a lie.
Even when it’s hard, it’s only because we love them so much.
Motherhood is purpose.
We have a goal. We have an advocacy.
And though we still, at times, may wonder who we are or what we’ve become, there is a sense of “everything is right in the world” when a baby falls asleep on your chest while you sleepily sing, You Are My Sunshine.
In that moment, you know you are capable of many great things.
Motherhood is joy.
My kids are, quite frankly, hilarious. Little comedians. They make me laugh — and not in a condescending way. Real belly laughs.
They make me tear up often out of pure pride. How did you learn that? I think. How amazing you are! I feel.
I enjoy being with them, teaching them, learning from them, taking walks with them.
They surprise me every day.
Motherhood is a journey.
I told my mom on the phone the other night, “You know, people always say you never know what it’s like to become a mom until you are one.” And it’s true.
It’s one of those rare, real miracles that — until experienced — is never quite the same in theory.
I had my last baby au naturel (no epidural or pain meds) — an experience that, to a degree, has summed up my brief mothering experience as a whole.
For a moment it was hard — so hard that I felt as though the lower part of my body was being ripped off. There was no way I could be prepared for it. I wasn’t sure I could do it again. I had moments of relief, moments of grace, moments where I knew this journey was so precious — and then, she was born.
All 9 lbs, 13 oz of her. In my arms. Against my body. She was happy. She was healthy.
And I thought: For her, I’d do it 100 times over.
She is worth it.
They are all worth it.
Motherhood is worth it.