Sometimes I don't want to be a mother. The constant need, the constant demand of my attention, my thoughts, my heart, my soul. My ears tuned to him, to the constant stream of "Mama. . .Mama", to the laughter and the coughs, the banging and the sudden silence followed by a wail of pain. Silence. Silence used to be a splendid thing, but now, with a child, silence is rarely good, silence signifies an attempt to not get my attention, an attempt to do that thing which a thousand times I have said "No! Do not do!" Silence is climbing on a kitchen counter, eating candy at 3 PM, digging a hole in the front yard. Silence is never true silence, unless they are sleeping. And even then, in sleep, their hold does not lessen - for in sleep, we listen, we strain to hear, are they breathing, are they comfortable, are they sick, are they waking up oh god no, don't wake up, please just go back to sleep.
The child is born, the button is pressed, there is no reprieve, it never ends. The child can be 1,000 miles away, visiting family in another country, and it is still on, you still feel the pull, you wonder, are they OK, are they playing in the pool, is someone watching them, are they safe, are they loved.
No reprieve. You forget yourself, the bubble of protection you always groomed around yourself is formed around them instead. You would do anything, you would stop a speeding bus, you would fling yourself off a cliff, you would do anything to keep them safe. You would starve your soul. You pretty much do.
A symbiotic relationship, is that the right term? What we learned about in science class years ago? The two organisms who cling to each other for life, using each other, feeding off each other, cannot live without the other. The child gets so much - love, food, shelter, protection, knowledge, attention - and the mother, the mother gives so much, gives all of that and more. Gives too much at times. In return. . .what? What is received? Love, need, trust. Late night cuddles, a hopeful face upturned. You are godlike to them - they love and fear you, they want to please you yet constantly fail you. They want your approval and they try to hide the bad things. . .but you know, you always know.
You are the kisser of boo-boos and the cleaner of faces and hands. You are the one who is run to when things go wrong. You are the wiper of tears and the carrier of sleeping bodies, so heavy, how are they so heavy when they sleep? You are absolute truth - the child trusts you with all, the child trusts what you say. You create the child's universe.
No pressure or anything.
Labels in life. We have so many - friend, neighbor, nurse, woman, daughter, wife. We can be any and all. Mother, though, mother comes in and trumps the rest. You are mother first, all of those second.
All of this I wish I had known. But there is no way to know, no way to truly know, until the child is born and the button pushed. By then, it is too late. The button is final. Once pushed, your life is forever changed. For good, for bad, it doesn't matter, it just is. Mother. You are now two hearts, two souls, too bodies. You will be in two places at once, your focus forever divided.
You will never be alone again.