Sometimes it’s hard. No, I mean really hard. Take what you think hard is, multiply it by thirteen, and then imagine that you are in charge of – oh, I don’t know – curing cancer in the space of an afternoon. And that afternoon, you happen to have the world’s worst migraine. Just for fun, let’s also add that you’re probably hungover too. That kind of hard. Or thereabouts. I wouldn’t technically know because my cure for anything involves ibuprofen and maybe some special Kleenexes with aloe on them if you’re seriously ill and the outlook is grim.
There are weeks where I think that I might actually lose it. I remember bringing C home from the hospital and feeling like having a baby was the most epic mistake I had ever made. It wasn’t just a what-the-hell-am-I-supposed-to-do-now type of problem with motherhood. It was an existential dilemma. What kind of world is it if I am made to want a baby, actually manage to make one with a person I love, and then the instant that child who is deserving of all my love arrives, I become delirious and have waking nightmares about dropping her off the balcony of our apartment?
It was hard. Hard in the kind of way that I understood for awhile the mentality of people who are suicidal. To be sure, I never was, but I had some dark days.
It got better. And it got easier.
Did it stay easy? Hells no. It got hard again. And I was actually surprised! This was all the more hilarious because I thought it would stay easy that first time around. Sometimes I catch myself believing that there is an age continuum with babies where the older they get, the easier they will be for their parents. As if diapers and handing fecal matter was the absolute rock bottom I’ll ever hit. Honestly, I would change her diapers until she was nine if in return I could permanently feel secure in my role as a mother.
I remember going to school dances that were held in the cafeteria of my school. All through the night, the overhead fluorescent lights were turned off and the room was lit with Christmas lights and disco balls. It was so pretty. At the end, though, the lights came on and I could see the giant trash compactor and puke-orange chairs around the room. Parenthood is a lot like that. You take yourself so incredibly seriously, but then the lights come on slowly and you realize you’re just in a cafeteria dancing around to Cotton Eyed Joe while wearing a dress with puffy sleeves.
But it’s worth it, this hardness and this ridiculousness. The last month or so has been really unpleasant for me, but now that I’m coming out the other side of it, I am more aware of the beauty of my child. The last couple days, she has been taking my breath away constantly. I am smitten with her in the same way that I was when she was about three months old and starting to do things. She’s talking SO MUCH and she actually kisses and hugs me back when I embrace her. She sits in the car quietly when we drive to storytime on Thursdays, lost in her own thoughts. She does funny walks and can sit on the bench at the park in the shade with me. She can do high-fives. It’s freaking amazing. I am in awe that I love her so much.
There are not enough days in my life to ever learn to truly appreciate the miracle of her. That’s a good problem.