Since I just wrote about the transition from being a stay at home mom to being a homeschooling mom I thought that I would back up that train and talk about the first of many transitions that have taken place during my relatively short mothering career. So…once upon a time, (7 years, 6 months ago)…
It was the night before Anthony’s baptism and I had been a mother for about 3 weeks. We were staying at my parents home overnight because they lived much closer to the church. We had friends and family from out of town staying over and were all hanging out in my parents living room. Probably due to exertion and stress I developed a raging case of mastitis.
For the uninitiated: mastitis is when you get an infection in your “nursing apparatus” and it causes searing pain in said organ and in my case also caused much vomiting and a very high fever. I have rarely, if ever, felt sicker. I remember lying in my childhood bed, in my childhood room sick as a dog and my mom walked in carrying my crying baby and told me I had to nurse him…that he was hungry…and that it would be good for the my infection too.
I remember looking at my mom with a feeling of confusion and thinking, “But you are my MOTHER!” and then an onslaught of thoughts came on all at once:
Why isn’t my mom making all of this better?
She’s completely off her nut if she expects me to go anywhere near touching this parasitical fire-bomb…let alone letting a tiny person who still doesn’t really know what the heck he is doing down there try to eat out of it.
This bearing-of-children pain invades everything, it doesn’t go away once the birth is over…That does NOT seem fair.
I am a woman…I am fully initiated now. Being a woman hurts like hell.
I am a mother…my baby needs me.
I am more my baby’s mother then I am my mother’s daughter. Even my mom says so.
That was the pivotal moment for me in the transition to motherhood. Instead of “mothering” me in the sense that I expected (medicine, orange juice, a movie, a cozy blanket, no responsibilities) my mom ushered me into motherhood by handing me my baby and expecting me to be the mother… I can really pin point it as the moment that I realized I was now living more for someone else then I was for myself. No matter what was happening with me that baby was not going away and I was his only mother. It was a shift in my self-identity that has never reverted…it transformed instead.
I’m grateful to my mom for that moment…if she hadn’t "said so" herself I don’t know how long it would have taken for me to see that truth. If she had continued to protect me and treat me as if I was the center of my own universe then I wouldn’t have accepted this white (sometimes literally red) martyrdom of motherhood in an, albeit, imperfect but thorough way (not that I accept it gracefully or gratefully – frankly, I don’t really have much of a choice most of the time now, do I?). In and of itself it was a beautiful act of her own motherhood. Once again, giving me the gift of life…a whole new life this time. The beautiful life of a mother.