Motherhood is: In which a previously sane, organized person undergoes a supreme cosmic shift

Julie Maclellan


This weekend marks two big milestones in our household: two years since the tiniest household member was born, and one year since I returned to the working world.

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Both milestones got me thinking about this whole business called motherhood. That thinking got me writing ... and that writing let to this blog post.

This one's dedicated to all my fellow mamas, with love.



Motherhood amazes me.

Two years into this journey, my mind still boggles at the cosmic shift that flipped my universe on its head that Friday afternoon in July.

Oh sure, people told me what it would be like. I saw my friends going through it. I read the books. I devoured mommy blogs and discussion boards. I knew what it meant to become a mother. I was prepared.

And yet I wasn't. I had no idea.

I had no idea that motherhood was all this.

Motherhood is never sleeping as fully, as soundly and as completely as you used to because even when you're sleeping you're always aware of that other being, alert in spite of yourself to her every whimper and cry and sound.

Motherhood is learning that you can become a morning person. That you can long for those Saturday morning sleep-ins but still love the moment when your early riser calls for you, so you can go in for your morning hug and kiss and gigglefest.

Motherhood is preparing vegetables even when you don't feel like eating them because you know your child ought to be eating more green. It's cooking hotdogs and chicken nuggets more often than you care to admit because that's what your picky toddler finds most appealing. It's knowing that you'll never eat another bowl of raisin bran with actual raisins in it, because the small person sitting next to you will take them from you with a giggle and a glint of mischief in her big blue eyes. It's never eating black olives on your pizza because, yes, that same small person will take those too. (Ditto for the blueberries in your muffins, the fruit topping on your pancakes, the whipped cream on your berries ... well, you get the idea.)

Motherhood is letting the housework go. It's telling the scrubbing and the laundry and the sweeping and the dusting where to go because someone wants you to play blocks, or read stories, or build houses with the couch cushions, and sometimes those things are just more important. (OK, let's be honest about this one: Motherhood is having an excuse to let the housework go, because frankly you never cared much for housework anyway.)

Motherhood is knowing that you may never use the bathroom in private again (at least not in the near future). It's realizing that a long hot shower feels like a luxury, and that you can't think of the last time you went to a hairdresser for anything more than a quick trim. It's not even finding your own grey roots particularly horrifying because, well, you've got other things to think about and where the heck did the match to that little striped sock go anyway?

Motherhood is finding yourself in a state of sort-of clean and sort-of presentable the vast bulk of the time. It's about wondering whether the yogurt that someone spilled on your jeans at breakfast will show up later and deciding to wear the jeans anyway. It's about choosing to wear the flowered shirt that you don't normally wear because your toddler's wearing her flowered shirt and she gets so excited when you're "like Charlotte!"

Motherhood is memorizing the words to Goodnight Moon, The Shape of Things and Wherever You Are My Love Will Find You.

Motherhood is dancing. And singing. Anytime, anywhere, for any reason. It's twirling and spinning and prancing and jumping up and down because there's a little person at your side who finds it hilarious. (And later, when she finds it humiliating instead, it will undoubtedly be just as much fun to keep dancing and singing in public.)

Motherhood is ceasing to care about the weather, because there's a little person in your house who wants to play outside and who cares if it's rainy because rain is when the puddles happen and everybody knows that splashing in puddles is the best part about going outside anyway.

Motherhood is giving yourself permission to slow down. To walk at toddler speed and to see everything that tiny person next to you sees from her vantage point of seventy-eight centimetres high. It's picking "blowies" (dandelions gone to seed) and berries and grass and wildflowers and using your pocket as a repository for sticks, leaves, rocks, pinecones, shells and all the other wondrous things a toddler finds in the world. It's realizing that it's OK to let the buttercups take over the backyard sometimes because they're yellow and pretty and fun to pick.

Motherhood is watchfulness. It's always being alert to what's going on in your child's life, whether she's a baby on your breast or a toddler on the run or, in some future world, a teenager with the car keys. It's knowing that while you may take your eyes off her sometimes, you'll always want to know where she is and who she's with and what she's doing.

Motherhood is being both good cop and bad cop. Being the one who says "no" and the one who wipes the tears that inevitably follow the no. It's being the one who enforces such fundamental life lessons as "no hitting" and "give someone else a turn" and "no, we can't throw rocks" and "hold mommy's hand when you cross the street" - and the one who doles out the hugs when those lessons are just too much for a tired two-year-old to take.

Motherhood is repeating yourself so often that you sometimes wonder if you're living in Groundhog Day. It's having the same conversations over and over again, and playing the same games over and over again, and reading the same stories over and over again, and going to the same park and swinging on the same swings and climbing up the same slide and smelling the same flowers and saying hello to the same neighbourhood cats and visiting the same coffeeshop every weekend because your tiny person knows her order and wouldn't want to pass a Saturday morning without her eggs and sausage and milk and doughnut.

Motherhood is losing control of things that used to seem important, like your time and your schedule and your organizational skills and your brain cells, and not missing them nearly as much as you thought you would because they've been replaced by other stuff, smushy marshmallowy stuff like love and hugs and sloppy toddler kisses.

Above all, motherhood is realizing that your first thought is always for someone else. That no matter where you are, who you're with or what you're doing, there's another human being somewhere whose life, health and happiness are at the core of your own - and whose existence matters more to you than your own life.

Motherhood is an adventure. Every minute of every hour of every day of every week of every year of your life, it will thrill you. Exasperate you. Soothe you. Infuriate you. Exhaust you. Inspire you.

Motherhood will change you forever.

But even if you could, you'd never want to change back.

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