My first daughter was ushered into a world of “just so” and lofty goals. She had homemade baby food, a year with no sugar, every dropped pacifier was sanitized and blessed with holy water before being gingerly placed back in her mouth. I am now a mom of three, and with each child, my motherhood has evolved.
That first sweet baby was handed to me after her c-section delivery, swaddled and bonneted like a burrito with a hat. I stared into her eyes, stroked her cheek, and kept her wrapped in her cotton cocoon for hours after her birth. It wasn’t until I was finally alone with her in the recovery room that it even occurred to me that I was allowed to unwrap this perfect little gift and count toes and fingers. I remember gingerly laying her on my lap, slowly parting the folds upon folds of fabric, marveling at her smallness—and immediately wrapping her back up. Allowing her to feel cold was simply out of the question!
By baby number two, I had learned the error of my ways (and grown to value all of the squishy cuteness of a naked baby bum). She was born naked and that’s how she stayed. Skin-to-skin was more than a hospital suggestion, it was a religion, and we reveled in it for months. Baby number three was no different, except that she now had two other little nudists running around when she arrived.
I now have three children (it is still hard to say), all girls, all different in the most remarkable ways. My journey as “Mom” has been just that: a journey. Being a first-time mom is the most harrowing thing many of us will endure. We want to do it well, we feel the pressure of responsibility weighty on our chests, we Pinterest and Google all the things, and still we wonder, “Am I doing this right?”
Well, I am here to tell you: It doesn’t get better.
Thank you, and goodnight.
Just kidding, sort of. Child number one knew her alphabet by age two, she potty trained like it was something she’d been waiting for me to allow her to do. I censored her television viewing with utter scrutiny. Her vocabulary was impeccable, and we never missed a library class or opportunity for fun. Child number two . . . well, let’s just say, what she doesn’t know about library class won’t hurt her. We are potty training, in spurts. We are singing our alphabet as a mash-up of Moana songs. She watches what her sister watches, who is six. And guess what? She is just as awesome as the first!
I have run the gamut of mom types, from crunchy to PopTarts for dinner. I just recently purchased my first batch of prepackaged baby food (for baby #3 of course), and let me just say, I was a fool! This stuff is freedom packaged in a convenient little pouch!
Over the past six years, I have learned that diapers do not have to be changed the second the line turns green (I have also learned that diapers with colored lines are way overpriced—nowadays we do the squish-the-tush test.) My pediatrician only gets a call when at least two out of the three are nearing death. Paci’s only get cleaned when they have gathered more dog hair than my couch. I rarely have anything I need in that glorified Hefty bag I call a diaper bag, but we manage.
The beauty of motherhood is that we didn’t become moms because we had somehow “arrived,” we are moms because we have so much yet to learn. Motherhood refines us, strips us down, roughs us up, and spits us out all shiny, wise, and grey haired. So take a moment, jot some notes down from those women who have been there. They have burned through the intensity of faux perfection and are laughing from the other side. We can learn from them to not take ourselves quite so seriously, and recognize that every woman is simply doing the very best she can at this crazy hard job called motherhood.