Friday, January 18, 2008

Here's to Mothers

Babies are sort of a mystery to me. I have held a few including my nieces and nephews as well as some babies who belong to friends, but I never had any regular and immediate contact with babies growing up. Most of the time it was just me and my brother, who is a year and a half older than me. I babysat, but usually for older kids. My siblings have children, and I have held their babies, but once they start crying I give them back. I could probably count how many diapers I have changed in my lifetime on one - maybe two - hands. I sort of feel like Tom Selleck and Ted Danson in Three Men and a Baby - befuddled, bewildered and bemused. My knowledge of babies is limited to observation and movies, neither of which are very reliable.
I mention this only because I know several people who have had babies in the past couple of months, and it astounds me how they all make it look so easy. Did they have practice? Do they have younger siblings that they helped take care of? Are they just naturals? I have been told that there is no such thing as a natural mother, but there are people who are just naturally good at being nuturers and knowing what to do. Having babies is sort of like what getting married was when I was single. It was something I saw for myself in this vague continuum of time, but in reality it was just something other people did. But then it happened to me, and it was somewhat unbelievable for a time. Now it seems pretty normal. Babies and kids are something I always assumed as a normal and given part of my life, but actually having them never really crossed my mind. I mean really and truly physically having them. It's always been sort of a fuzzy image in my mind or rather a skewed vision of my collective observations.
A friend of mine had a baby 2 days ago, and she was 9 days overdue. During those 9 days, I thought about all the things she must be going through emotionally only projecting my personality into it because Rebecca is the most relaxed person I know and would never try to control every situation the way I do. I would probably be thinking about what I would do and how I would know what was happening was really happening and not just a figment of my overactive imagination. I can't dwell too much on the actual labor and giving birth part because I am still somewhat delusional believing that it really isn't that bad. I would like to stay in my delusion for a while. But the real anxiety comes in the aftermath. What to do when the baby comes home with you? In a mere matter of hours you went from complete freedom to having a 24-7 responsibility. That changes so many things. Besides that, this isn't someone else's kid... this is your kid, so when he starts crying you can't just hand him over to someone else. You are the someone else. Changing diapers, clipping finger nails, giving baths, bottles, binkis, cribs, strollers... yikes. Life seems overwhelmingly complicated. Of course, Rebecca has been cool as a cucumber the past 9 months, but she was that way about her wedding too.
I have no need to spend endless hours fretting about this stuff, but it has made me appreciate the wisdom and experience of mothers and other women who have been through this rite of passage. As I have read the blogs of friends, some of whom are pregnant or have just had a baby, I have been interested in the comments of their friends who are mothers. It's like being part of an exclusive club of women. Most women will go through this rite of passage at some point in their lives, and some will be more prepared than others. But I don't think any woman really knows the magnitude of motherhood until she experiences it for herself. She will listen to the advice of others, but she will largely learn on her own through mistakes and triumphs. Because what works for one mother may not work for another. That is why it is such a beautiful and personal experience.
So here's to all the mothers out there from the 2 of mine to Cameron's to sisters, cousins and friends. Here's to embarking on an unknown adventure and discovering a joy and love you didn't know existed. Here's to sleepless nights, not enough time, lifestyle adjustments, cramped apartments, baby smiles, children's books, families and a mother's love. You are esteemed and admired and hold perhaps the most important job title ever created. Here's to mothers.

11 comments:

Margo said...

Nikki, that was beautiful. Trust me, as daunting the idea is and it never ceases to be daunting, being a mother is one of the most incredible things ever. I look forward for the day when you will be able to enjoy the beauty of motherhood. Getting to hold my dear, sweet, crazy children is priceless. We are so blessed to be surrounded by such amazing mothers. I love you and believe me, when you hold that little one, you will look into their eyes and it will feel like home. The same peace you feel with Cameron. Yes, their will be a sense of fear, but their is also a love that you will cherish. I love you.

Aaron, Lindsey, and Zander said...

You don't worry one bit!!! You are going to make an awesome mom. Most things comes naturally...especially the making mistakes and learning from them (hopefully learning from them). By the way, is this an announcement?;)

Nicole Cave said...

Are you trying to tell us something!? Or are you truly just afraid of the whole thing? Either way I can honestly say it is a life changing experience, but one I would never want to live without. My brother and sister in law, (Eric & Melinda) You probally know Melinda from High school. just adopted a baby girl in July and they were sealed to her yesterday. It was really neat. No matter how you become a mother, it is one of life's greatest opportunity's!!

Tris & Ken said...

It's so completely amazing how natural it is when it's your baby! Everyone says that, but I remember when they put my little wet, screaming daughter on my chest in the delivery room (8 days late... different story) and it was like something just clicked inside me and I just knew what to do! Seriously, it's one of those things that you will forever be in awe of. It's fun and crazy and terribly difficult at the same time, but it's bizarrely natural. Until all of the sudden it comes time for discipline issues... then who knows? That's where we are now. But I loved your post and just wish that everyone could feel the power of motherhood-- even just for one tiny second.

Doug and Dawn Hardy said...

I was wondering the same thing as Nicole Cave. I too agree with her that it is one of the greatest experiences you can have in this life. No one is completely prepared for it but that is part of the journey. You learn and grow with time and with each child. I am so thankful to be a mother to such beautiful and sweet little spirits. It is a life changing thing but so worth it. Thanks for this tribute to mothers it is beautiful. I was reading your other posts and I love that you did a midnight run for New Year's. That is such a great way to bring int the New Year.

Dave and Mandy said...

Your fan base is going to explode with this muse/post. Thank you Nikki for the most beautiful tribute to mothers. It's just what I needed to read at the end of a very long day of mothering. It is the most exhausting yet rewarding job ever, and I am confident you will excell at being a mom, like everything else you do in life. Thanks for visitng our blog recently. I just think the world of you Nikki and will always remember my year living across from you at Courtside and our runs to the Riverwoods. You're the best!

Beth&Cody said...

I actually was very similar to you in regards to children and being a mother. Now that my little guy is almost a year old it seems like I've always been his mother. I still don't call myself a "natural" mother but I do love spending time with him and making sure he has everything he needs and watching him grow and learn. Every new stage is more fun than the last (especially when they get on a schedule because I also like to control things and have a plan for my day).

nikki said...

No announcement. Just appreciating the many mother examples in my life.

nikki said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rachel said...

That was so beautiful, Nikki. As a mother I say.. Thanks :)

Ada Bowler said...

You hit the nail right on the head. Becoming a mother is one of the most rewarding, yet most challenging jobs in the world. Just having become a mother for the third time, I started the process all over again, and have found even more joy in it. There is no question that there are those overwhelming days (sometimes many in a row!), but it's all worth it!