I often wonder when the exact point is when a person becomes a mother. And I don't mean the 'having the kid' part. I mean the internal shift to 'mothering'. Is there a moment when you suddenly just know instinctively what to do? Do you have to learn how to mother? It's probably different for everyone, so I can't claim to know the answer.
What I do know is that I was that woman who never handled babies before they were at least three months old. I never changed another kid's diaper (and I still haven't) and I gladly gave them back to their mommies when the tears started coming (and I still do).
And then I had my own kid. I was terrified before she was born, because I had so little experience with babies. What if I couldn't dress her, because she'd be so little? What if that I sucked at changing diapers or couldn't bathe her? What if she cried and I couldn't soothe her? What if I couldn't feed her? What if she woke up in the middle of the night and I didn't? What if, what if, what if?!?!
For me, the transition into motherhood was simple and instinctive. That first time I held my daughter, it was as if something in me clicked, or easily shifted into place. Suddenly, none of the things I worried about during my pregnancy even mattered anymore. The nurses showed my hubby how to bathe her and change diapers (while I was confined to my bed due to that pesky unplanned c-section) and he showed me when I was mobile enough to do it myself. The plus point was that diaper changing is pretty easy. :D It was also pretty easy for me to provide for her, to nurture and to love her. I was blessed enough not to have PND, which I think helped a whole lot.
Of course, everything else isn't always easy. Sometimes, even now, Kayla cries and we just don't know what she's crying about. Sometimes soothing her is very difficult. Sometimes, I don't understand her at all!! She doesn't always react to things in the same manner as she did just the day before. She'll be elated and giggling the one moment and completely hysterical the next, and that over the smallest, most trivial things you can imagine. Like her hat falling. Seriously.
There have been times when her constant crying had me in tears too. Colic, my friends, is a bitch. And Kayla didn't even have the colic as bad as some other kids we know. Sleep regression sucks too. Since she started walking, she's been falling a lot more than she used to. Sometimes when she falls, I cry as hard as she does! Her tantrums have had me crying too. Because you feel like you're doing the best you can and it's just not good enough.
Sometimes, mothering is difficult and frustrating.
But is it rewarding? Always.
The way she smiles up at me. The way she sneaks up on me from behind and rests her head on my back. The way she runs and laughs when I chase her. The way she giggles from the pit of her stomach when I tickle her. The way she calls me at the top of her lungs first thing in the morning when she wakes up. The way she pouts her lips to kiss me. The way she throws her little arms around my neck. The way she wrestles with me on the carpet.
The way she loves me.
It's the same way I love her.
And THAT is what makes being a mother the most fulfilling thing I've ever known. Because of her.
Stay beautiful and be kind to animals,