The Truth of Motherhood

 

 

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The greatest and shortest lived relief of my life came at 7:22 pm on 2/23/85.

That was the exact moment, after 36 hours of labor, that I expelled a 9 lb 4 oz baby from my body.

The whites of my eyes were blood red from exertion and burst blood vessels. My biceps ached from pulling myself up to push, contraction after contraction. And when that body I had been carrying for 9 months finally made it’s way out, it created sort of a vacuum and I feared that more than just the baby would plop out.

I heard the doctor say, “It’s a boy!”

And while he was still tethered to my body by the thick blue and white umbilical cord, my immediate response was, “Oh my God! Someday he’s going to drive!”

7:22 pm plus 30 seconds, and I was already terrified.

That is the truth of motherhood.

Alone with him in the hospital room I stared at him while he slept to make sure he kept breathing. I was afraid to look away. When he moved his arms or his legs I felt the echo of him in my womb.

Instinctively I put my hand over my belly to feel him, but he was gone and I was empty.

Even though he was lying right in front of me, I felt the loss of him.

That is the truth of motherhood.

Three weeks later (which seemed like one long day because of the feedings every 2 hours, 24 hours a day), I stared at this oblivious child and thought, “What did I do? For the REST OF MY LIFE I am responsible for this child.” The inescapable weight of responsibility for a life.

That is the truth of motherhood.

The years passed, and the baby, who was no longer a baby, is inching closer to the day when he will drive. Milestones like the first smile, first tooth, first steps, and first words are now just memories written in his Baby Book.

There have been emergency room visits, broken bones, stitches, siblings, fights, triumphs and defeats. And I learned that I can’t protect him from the hurts of life.

And when he defies me, I am surprised at how livid I can get with this child who I once willed to breathe. I feel ashamed for getting angry. But at the end of every day I tuck him safely into bed, kiss him goodnight. And them I pray to God to make me a better mother.

That is the truth of motherhood.

And he grows a bit more, and now he can drive. The fear that has been 17 years in the making is every bit as terrifying as I thought it would be. I can’t sleep until he gets home. I may doze off, but I get up to look out the window whenever I think I hear the car.

I remember him as a baby, and think about how much easier it was back then. But it wasn’t really ever easy. It was just a different kind of hard.

That is the truth of motherhood.

And now he is 31 years old. High school, college, and all those years of playing football are gone. While we were busy living, we forgot to remember that it wouldn’t last forever.

Now he is a man, and he has been living on his own for eight years. So I guess that means that my job is done.

But I will always be his mother and he will echo in my life for the rest of my life.

That is the truth of motherhood.

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