Saturday, February 14, 2009

Motherhood Hurts

Motherhood hurts. That's one of the little things hidden in the fine print that no one tells you about when you decide to embark on the journey of parenthood. You know, that list of things that only experienced parents know about. The list that they never seem to share with their as-yet child free friends and family members.

You always here about the physical pain - most notably labor. Does labor hurt? Heck ya it does! I am well aware of the necessity involved with the pain of labor. It's there for a reason. Pain with a purpose, so to say. This is the one thing that people always focus on when it comes to kids - they all want to tell you their horrible labor stories, particularly when you are pregnant! What people don't tell you about are the other things that come with having kids. The sore breasts from the second you get pregnant. The indigestion. The sore back and hips. The shock of discovering your sciatic nerve for the first time. And, yes the hemorrhoids. And that's just before the baby is born! Afterwards, you get the sore nipples, the headaches from sleep deprivation. The arm and shoulder always a little sore from carrying around your little bundle of joy.

As kids get older, there are all kinds of dangers lurking ahead for mom. I had a friend actually break her leg because of her kid. He was reaching for hot coffee, and she jumped (or tried to jump) the baby gate. She managed to distract him and get him away from the coffee, but not quite in the way she planned. Don't even get me started on the exposure you will get almost daily to every kind of germ and bacteria imaginable. Kids are gross, and they make you sick.

The physical pain is one thing, but the emotional part of it is so much harder. If you aren't entirely prepared for the physical pain involved with motherhood, the emotional aspect of it will broadside you like an 18 wheel truck.

The first six weeks of their lives, babies mostly just want to eat, sleep and poop. There's not a whole lot of a connection there, at least not in a way that you can feel validated for. They make eye contact, sure, but as a mom you find yourself trying to get a response. A smile. Something. What you don't realize is that while for those 6 weeks you are wanting so desperately to feel that complete bond with the baby, you'll spend the rest of your life letting go a little more every day.

The reality is that every day that your child gets older, they need you a little bit less. And you don't even really realize it as it happens, since the process seems so gradual. And you certainly don't notice it as much with your second, third or fourth child as much as you do with the first. Some of the changes, you welcome. They find their thumb, and suddenly they don't need you to comfort them. They can sit up, and you don't always have to hold them on your lap. They can walk, and you no longer have to carry them. Eventually, this will turn into the first time that they wipe off your kiss, or turn away from a hug. No Mommy, I can go in to school by myself. I don't need you to come. I'm okay, really.

Being a mom is hard. Much, much harder than you ever think it will be. My kids are my life. My everything. But, as they get older the changes happen. They need me a little bit less every day. It's not something that I was prepared for. Nor is it something I enjoy. But it is something that needs to happen, and that I will continue to encourage. After all, my job is not to keep children, it is to raise them.

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