“You’ll understand better when you’re a mom.”
Did you ever hear that before having your first baby? I used to get frustrated, hearing moms say that to me. I’d feel offended, thinking, “Hey, I’m able to love like you, so why does having a baby have to make everything so different?” I mean hey, I’m a fun-lovin’ kinda gal, a kid on the inside; why do I have to wait until I have a baby to understand what moms claim to understand better?
They’re female, I’m female. They love, I love. I didn’t get it. I threw that comment, like an itchy sweater I didn’t want to wear, into my mental closet. It just plain irritated me. It’s like hearing, “You’ll understand better when you’re older.” What’s the big ol’ to-do about?
Time passed, I’m in my 30’s, and the dialogue of My Cousin Vinny‘s character Mona Lisa Vito echoed in my head,
“My biological clock is ticking…!”
And in my 34th year…
G-d created my first child, and it was good. I went for my first ultrasound at 5 weeks to make sure everything was A-Ok with baby and me. I hopped up on the table, rested my head on the pillow and turned my head toward the sonogram screen. My sonographer was analyzing a cloud of smudgy blacks, whites and greys on the screen, and then she spoke:
“Awww, there you are! Lookin’ good! And you’ve got a nice strong heartbeat!”
I looked at her, then at the screen she was talking to. There was a teeny, tiny, itsy, bitsy white dot flashing in front of my confused eyes. As soon as the thought, ‘What’s that?’ entered my head, my suddenly psychic sonographer pointed to that flashing white dot and answered, “That little dot flashing? That’s your baby. Yep. Baby’s about the size of a piece of rice. The flashing is your baby’s heartbeat.”
I, who am usually under control during emotional moments, instantly began to tear up. I couldn’t take my glassy eyes off the screen. I had an enormous lump in my throat. I whispered, “Really?” My baby’s heart. There it was. Flashing beats for us to see that life had begun. Whoa. I was a strong and independent warrior of a woman ready to take on the world, and there I was, resting my head on a pillow as my water-soaked eyes streamed tears down the sides of my face uncontrollably. A little life depended completely on me. I carefully caressed my tummy. That was the first day my faith in G-d came to reality. I went home, reached in my cabinet for a container I had of rice, pulled one piece out and laid it in the palm of my hands. I heard the sonographer’s voice echo in my head, “…A little baby…about the size of a piece of rice,” and took on my first role of many in being a mother: Pregnancy.
Baby, ohhh baby…
Three months of scent-based nausea, three months of plain Vienna Beef hot dogs and Oreo Blizzard cravings, and three final months of “get my @#$%^&*@# baby outta me!” What a trip! And then Tuesday, September 26, 3:14am rolled around. My baby began to gently knock on my pregnant belly’s door wanting to come out and play. I didn’t answer. I thought it was just one of those unpredictable pains. She knocked harder. I opened my eyes. I swore she took a few steps back and ran at full speed to break down the door! She wanted out, and – ohhh yeah, baby – she was gonna get what she wanted. I said “she.” I was having a baby girl. I quickly entered my next role: Labor/child delivery. Oh, what a role.
Labor pains turned me into a total rock star.
I breathed through my labor pains until they were close enough to go to the hospital, and I, for the first time, kinda felt like a rock star with my own posse. Everything I wanted was done for me in a flash. My husband’s mom kept the time between contractions and breathing, my husband threw the hospital bag into our SUV, then helped me carefully into the car and zoomed us to the hospital. I was escorted out of my vehicle and into a state-of-the-art and Eco-friendly vehicle (wheelchair) and had a personal chauffeur take me to my “penthouse suite” (maternity unit). I was asked for my autograph time and time again (hospital papers to sign), and had a number of assistants (hospital staff) who took care of every need I had. The best part? No paparazzi. Whew! :)
After settling in, my only approach to Zen was a mantra I learned about a month before: “Ep-i-duuuur-al”. About 10 hours and 45 minutes and a boatload of the ‘90s television show, Friends (season DVDs which I conveniently brought to help me laugh through the contractions) later, the nurse told me to begin breathing and pushing, but my head was screaming HOLY @#%*&^ this is crazy pain. (My epidural wore off. Twice.)
2:00pm – I heard the nurse say “Look! There’s the baby’s head!” That was it. That was all I needed to hear. Those words turned me into the strongest woman in the world with a mission and, damn it, I was going to complete it – stat! Took me 38 minutes.
Enter, stage right. My new role: Mommy.
For the first time I saw my baby in front of me. For 9 months, as she developed, she was referred by the doctors, nurses, pregnancy books and sites as a piece of rice, a zygote, a soda pop can and a squash. To me, she was my baby from the start. A breathing, cooing, nuzzling little creation brought to me and my husband from a magical, Heavenly place.
When my little bundle of sunshine was placed in my arms, I forgot that I ached. That I had no sleep. That I, um, just had a baby. I forgot about everything that ever needlessly hijacked my peace. She brought peace back to me, just being in my arms.
And at that point I knew my commitment to her was to provide that same peace as she grows through life’s rickety, adventurous journey. By being born to me, she earned me a promotion, to the title of Mother, the greatest title I ever earned as an employee of Life, G-d & Universe, Incorporated.
I thought all those mothers had me figured wrong about needing to wait until I was a mom to understand, but when they’re right, they’re right. Something changed. Besides the typical hormone house party in my body, something else happened to me.
A transformation took place. I was like Neo from The Matrix who suddenly knew Kung Fu, only martial arts were exchanged for mommy arts. Let’s face it: Being a mommy should be a martial art. It’s all about discipline, rules and battling conflicts every day. We instinctively know our enemies. We can smell ‘em a mile away. Okay, no, we can’t smell ‘em, but we can smell when a diaper needs to be changed before the rest of the population in your home can catch up to the nasty. Neo’s got nothin’ on our abilities to change a diaper one-handed, while on the phone working out an issue with customer service, cooking a meal, washing the laundry and still getting every bill paid on time. We inherit skills. Mad skills.
As I reminisce, it was a fabulous journey taking on the challenging roles from pregnancy to motherhood. I’ve learned that each milestone in life has its time and place to occur. We can all pretend we know what mothers mean when they say that we’ll understand better when we’re mothers. Truth is, we don’t know, until it’s time to know. Drops of realization occur through pregnancy, delivery and plenty times after. We get punched in the face with responsibility, and over sleepless nights, smelly, over-sized, comfy sweats and unwashed hair thrown into a ratty ponytail, we slowly gain an instinctual need to provide a beautiful, safe and love-filled life for our child(ren) through the never-ending challenges given to us. Does that make sense? You know what I mean? If not, take it from me…
You’ll understand better when you’re a mom.
HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY, EVERY DAY!
Reprinted with gratitude and permission from: