I recently had the opportunity to talk to a dear friend about new motherhood. What a topic. I think it is hard to really fathom until you’re consumed by it and even then you don’t really know what in the world is going on. Ah new life – we decided that being a new mom is a series of paradoxes. How can you be totally overwhelmed and totally fulfilled at the exact same time? Apparently with a new baby anything is possible. Isaiah and I have often commented how fast your blood starts pumping and you instantly feel hot and frustrated when the baby is crying and you’re thinking “ahh what do I do?!” And then pretty soon the storm passes and they lay there so calmly, little angel babies and the moment of frustration is gone. I think all the quick swings of emotion is more taxing then most new moms are used too…I’d say new dads too, but I think I broke Isaiah in on that one so, who knows. Ha ha. As far as survival advice goes on the melting pot of emotions, it’s the same old advice veterans offer for most hard things – it gets easier with time. I, too, was skeptical of that in the beginning, but now I wholeheartedly agree. And it’s not the situation that ever really changes, but it is you, me. The act of becoming is intensely refining – becoming a mother is no exception. I’ve talked to Isaiah about how I feel adequately trained in political science – I have spent years studying and honing my skills, learning to write research memos for the President of China or prescribing solutions for countries in economic peril – but none of that seems to be of necessity now. How, pray tell, do you raise a child? Where is all that training and studying?
Fortunately, the past five months with Claire have answered those things for me. No learning, even in political science, is wasted when you are raising the future. As with most things in motherhood, it’s not usually obvious or markedly apparent what leads to what. For example, you get professional or educational training and you know what you’re going to do with that. Train to be a surgeon, go operate on people. Study to be a 3rd grade teacher, go teach 3rd graders. But motherhood – it is the accumulation of a lifetime of experiences, opportunities, choices, and character that somehow combines in such a way to teach a child about the world. And THAT takes creativity. It is a debilitating trick to think as a mother you must follow a cookie cutter mother pattern. Really, every mom is bringing so many unique things to the table that I have no doubt they have been given to raise their specific kids. To stifle such gifts, experiences, choices, etc. to fit into the mold is a shame…and extremely boring. If you limit yourself to what you “think” mothers do, especially by the world’s definition, you might feel utterly dismayed and hopeless – trapped in the walls of your own home with the twin monsters of diapers and burp cloths. But if you think of the things you love to do, the things you’re good at, things you want to learn, and so forth, and get reeeal creative, you’ll find a way to do that with your baby- all the while raising a child with the “motherhood” training you never knew you had. It is attitude, perspective, insight – a change of self more than a change of situation. As for me, I’m raising a future world politician, famous singer, or novelist, among many, many other things. Overwhelming, certainly. Frustrating, at times. Boring – only if I make it so. In the words of my mother - Oh the possibilities.