Parenting in One Word

Momentous occasions are always met with required follow-up commentary and questions. When you get engaged, people ask how it happened. When you get married, people ask if it feels different. When you get pregnant, people wonder how you're feeling, when you're due and are you excited?

Having a baby is no different. Along with congratulations on your child's beauty and asking if you're getting any sleep, people with kids usually ask how you're feeling, And people without kids ask:
What's it like being a mom?
Is it possible to sum up what it feels like to be someone's entire world in one sentence? Or one word?

When people ask me what it's like being a mom, my short, one-word answer would be this: Overwhelming. In every. single. way. you can possibly imagine.

You are overwhelmed with responsibility. With happiness. Overwhelmed with gratitude. With anxiety, and hormones. Overwhelmed with fear. And more than anything, with love.

Overwhelmed is not (always) a bad thing. It is just to say that everything you feel after having a baby is amplified. Bigger, sometimes heavier. You're at your most vulnerable, and suddenly, every choice you make directly affects more than just you.

So when people ask me what it's like to be a mom, or how I feel, the long answer I'd give, is this:

I'm overwhelmed with joy when I walk through the door and his face lights up like he has never been, will never be, happier than he is at that instant, at seeing his mama walk through the door. At the distinct "Mama," followed by a slur of jargon that only a parent could understand. Joy can be overwhelming.

I'm overwhelmed with guilt, at times. For not being the mom who makes all of her baby's food or buys only organic. For being the mom who buys frozen meatballs and serves Spaghettio's. For feeling like I'm never giving enough but knowing I can't give any more. For buying him things that I know in my heart he doesn't need, and for not buying him everything despite that. Guilt is overwhelming.

I'm overwhelmed with pride when he takes wobbly, hesitant (yet confident) steps, one hand holding on to his ear like he's holding a boombox, while the other is extended, like he's from The Walking Dead.

I'm overwhelmed with options. What is the difference between the convertible car seat that costs $100 more than the other model by the same brand? What is the difference between natural and all natural? Should his diapers be sensitive or cruisers or baby dry? Choices are overwhelming.

I'm overwhelmed with awe when I think I about how just one year ago, my baby was growing inside my belly. With the idea that my husband and I created him. With the way my heart feels when he looks up at me and in his eyes I can see happiness, wonder and love. To be constantly in awe of something or someone, is overwhelming.

I'm overwhelmed with fear. That something terrible, tragic and horrible is going to happen to me, my husband or my baby. Overwhelmed with grief and sadness when I read about other mothers, ones who are diagnosed postpartum with cancer or rare diseases. Parents whose babies died, for no reason at all or for the most unimaginable reason in the world. Isn't any reason unimaginable? Fear is crippling.

I'm overwhelmed with relief that right now, in this moment, me, my husband and my baby are alive, healthy and thriving. Then again, I'm overwhelmed with guilt at feeling this way at another family's expense.

I'm overwhelmed with information, about everything from when to start solid foods to how to wean off a bottle or pacifier to how to get the baby to sleep through the night, right down to what shoes are best when baby starts to walk. Knowledge, and my lack of it, is overwhelming.

I'm overwhelmed with nostalgia, thinking about my own childhood; traditions and memories with my parents and family, and the desire to create those same moments with my new little family. Nostalgia at my "old" self, and the notion that doing anything on a whim is no longer possible and that getting drunk on date night is not as fun when you know you still have to wake up and be a parent. (Hello again, guilt, at longing for a time of life when the baby wasn't here.)

I'm overwhelmed with time, both the sheer lack of it and the pace with which is moves by, so quickly.

But mostly, I'm overwhelmed by love. Incredible, all-encompassing, take-your-breath-away love that is shocking, really. A kind of love so great and so big, it's frightening, but wonderful...and indescribable.

Parenting is overwhelmingly hard. Overwhelmingly rewarding. And if you ask me what it's like to be a mom, or how I'm feeling - I'll tell you the short version.

And I'll hope that someday, you know just what I mean.

1 comment:

  1. Oh my goodness I love this post so much. Brought tears to my eyes!


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