Disclaimer: Being a mother is one of the most amazing gifts in the entire world. I love my son and he is the bright spot in my life. Without him, I would not exist. He is my everything.
OK, with that out of the way. Here's the deal. As a 29-year-old single, full-time, working mother of a 4-year-old, there hasn't been a moment in the past four years where I didn't feel dizzy from the sheer chaos of my life. Everyone warns you. They express how hard it is to care for a child. They inform you that you will get no sleep. They sit you down and calmly explain that your entire life is about to change. You hear them, but you don't listen. You space out as they are giving you a laundry list of things that you need to get done before the baby is born, while you daydream about the fact that your body miraculously now has two hearts beating inside of it. What will this precious baby look like? Will it be a boy or girl? What will you name it? How many cute outfits can you put on it in a day?
Fast-forward to the day you bring that "oh-so-precious" baby home. You're exhausted from just giving birth for 15 hours, your body looks like it went through a war, your boobs are not-the-good-kind of huge and hard as a rock and I won't even go into detail about what is going on down south. You feel like you just ran a marathon and you'd very much appreciate a week-long vacation, but the truth is, the marathon has not even begun.
Sure, you feed off of the initial energy you get when you finally bring home the baby you've been patiently anticipating for nine whole months, but that lasts for all of about two days. Multiple, middle-of-the-night feedings; unstoppable crying; some of the weirdest-colored poop you've ever seen in your life; endless rocking; out-of-tune lullabies; breast pumping -- all while trying to bring some sort of sexy back. You start to get angry at everyone who didn't tell you just how hard this was going to be. But, wait, they did. And, you didn't care. Shit.
"Nap when the baby naps." You'll hear that one a lot. Uh, no, why would I want to do that? It's the only chance I have to pretend I'm by myself. God help anyone who rings a mother's doorbell during nap time. Showering? Ha! If you're lucky. Getting your nails done? Why, so you can ruin them with poop and diaper cream? This goes on for a good four to six months until you find yourself on your knees night after night, praying to the Lord above to just make it easier.
Then, out of the clear blue sky, your baby decides to sleep through the night. But, at this point, you're so used to that cranky little milk guzzler getting up every three hours that you start to panic. Is he breathing? Is he choking? Did that last episode of Yo Gabba Gabba make his tiny little brain explode? So, you do the unthinkable: You wake him up, try to shove a bottle in his mouth, or just gaze at him while he's sleeping. You soon snap out of it and think What the hell am I doing? This is what I've been wasting all of my 11:11 wishes on! You do a little happy dance and- - finally -- pass out.
I'd like to say this is when it gets easier; when everything falls into place. And in some respect, it does. But I'd be doing you a disservice if I didn't mention that each developmental stage creates a new set of uncharted challenges. Teething, switching to solid food, binky or no binky, sitting, crawling, walking, opening and closing every single possible drawer/door you have. By this point, you are in survival mode. It's like someone created a soldier-like version of yourself and you are in determined to do this until you drop dead of exhaustion -- which, unfortunately, you never do.
At some point, and it's different for everyone, you have what I like to call "slowing down" moments. Those moments where you can actually hear yourself breathing and thinking. Incredibly brief moments of silence. Moments of being able to sit back and not have your mind run rampant. And it's in these moments, where you discover that your tiny little infant has transformed into an actual human being. He can walk, and talk and -- get this -- he's actually funny! He will do the most insignificantly endearing thing and it will be as if Will Smith himself appeared in your house wearing a black suit and sunglasses and flashed that ridiculous silver thing at you, erasing every stressful second from your memory.
It's those fleeting moments of adorableness that keep you coming back for more. They are so intoxicatingly blissful, that they can't be found anywhere else. Because they are pure; without underlying intention; raw truths of adoration. And if you ask any mother, they'd do it all over again (and many have). And I truly believe that's why. The joy and fulfillment you get from watching your baby grow up in front of your eyes is worth more than any good night's rest, all-night bender, day of relaxation or life of no responsibilities. It is just what they say it is -- and more. An entirely exhausting, magical, frustrating explosion of amazingness.