If you would ask me if I constantly enjoy the feeling of being a mother, I would to your utmost and unexpected blow and horror say no. It’s not that I don’t love my daughter or that I don’t intend to have more kids. Not that it’s not exciting to go home to a bubbly baby to sooth the remnants of my tough day at work or watch her knock herself out with the most minute of things. It’s not that she doesn’t rock my world with her genuine laughs or that she makes me young with the games we play. No.
It’s not easy to have another life depend on me. When I had her, my doctor deposited her in my arms before I could say ‘Fillet’. I’d felt a pang of fear engulf me at the thought of being a mother. Had the doctor given me a chance, I would have asked him to give me a few years to prepare myself psychologically. Yes, (thoughtfully) a few years would do it because the nine months I had been with child had been a drop in the ocean. Again, yes. Please shut your surprised mouth now. No matter how much I thought I had prepared myself, I still felt strange when reality checked in. I was terribly confused; I didn’t exactly figure where to start especially this, being my first time and all. Luckily I got used to it.
There are three major ingredients of motherhood, the first being love. This came in the moment I conceived. I loved her even when I had no idea what she looked like, even when I had no bump yet. I felt a sense of defence and promised to protect her with my life. My love grew with the bump. Her every shift was an honour and we played even while the most I could do was feel her. I’d talk to her and pray with her, even introduce her to things around us. I felt her movements the most when I’d lay down to rest. I was almost sure she felt it whenever I was at peace.
Then I gave birth to her and my love for her multiplied. Scared as I was to finally meet her I loved her to bits. She was tiny and helpless. Her head was heavy and her limbs folded softly into a soft comfort position. It was enough to make my heart melt. She relaxed whenever I held her in my arms and moved toward the direction of my voice. I knew instantly that I was an important person to her, to her daddy, and to the society. That is where my task began.
The second ingredient came in shortly-Care. I was tasked with the obligation to make sure another human being was fully comfortable. She’d cry and I’d get confused not knowing what to check first. Thank God for ‘New Mom’ books as they made me learn that there are three reasons babies cry when they are not sick; wetness, hunger and sleep. That made it easy for me to work my way around… at least untill one day when I did all that but she couldn’t stop crying. Oh, so I realised I was not supposed to take in stress lest I wouldn’t produce enough milk! Crap!
So with this responsibility weighing squarely on my shoulder, I had to work harder to endow her with the best we could get. I had to rally round her daddy to make more money. We would rather eat left over food than watch our baby struggle to survive.
Worry is the third and most comfortable ingredient. This is what led me to write this piece today. Since I had her, I have been watching this girl’s every move and react quickly with every whimper. I worry that she could fall badly when playing and I worry that while at work my house help could mistreat her or that she could feed her with lots of piriton tablets so that when she sleeps, she can take her domestic tours around. I worry that she could get sick. I worry when she chokes even on water. I worry when she sleeps when petrified and I wake up at night to feel her breath and to make sure she isn’t having any nightmares. I call home umpteen times a day to talk to her. I fret more when my heart skips a bit and my house help is unreachable. That kills me.
Mine is just a letter in a sentence. I know many women who struggle in marriages but hung in the there because they worry about their children’s future. Mothers worry about their children when they travel and even when they get married. They worry that they may get hurt in relationships and even when they take too long without communicating.
This ingredient is the most agonizing and I have already accepted the fact that I will worry for ever. I worry till I’m called paranoid, then I start getting worried that I could indeed be paranoid. The minute you become a mother, if you are not, you will know the depth of my plight. Meantime, it’s about time I call home again to check on my girl.