mothering, a tribute to the cause – (ozifrog)

This time of the year is all about honoring mothers. Over the next two weeks, we have International Bereaved Mothers Day (May 5), Birth Mother’s Day (May 11), Mother’s Day (May 12), and Step Mother’s Day (May 19). In recognition of this, we will be featuring a different post every day this week from a PAIL reader who has volunteered to share her thoughts about mothering. We hope you enjoy reading everyone’s posts this week! 

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How do you solve a problem like a mother?

Becoming a mother is like taking your car to a mechanic.( If you’re anything like me, you don’t know much about cars). So you take your car in for what seems to be a minor routine service. Now, the thing is about putting your car in for a service is you don’t know what you’re buying.

I’d like to buy this thing, that I can’t name.

And actually, I won’t know if you’ve given it to me or not.

And I won’t know if you’re a good mechanic or not.

And I won’t know if you’re charging a good price, or you’re ripping me off. But yes, I’d really like this service. Yes, I’d love to pay $250 for a rocker gasket cover, that sounds great.

Yes, I’d like to become a mother.

I don’t know what one is, really.
I mean, I’ve got one, a mother. She’s done a pretty good job. I’ve watched what she’s done. I know which bits I’d do the same, and which bits I’d do differently.

I have no idea how much this decision is going to cost me. When I’m doing it, I won’t know if I’m doing a good job or not. In theory, I know the parts that a mother should have. But I don’t know how they fit together. Or what makes a mother go, or break down.

I found out. Infertility. Two rounds of IVF in 2011. A sub chorionic haematoma. Sixteen weeks of bedrest. Five haemorrhages. A stubborn you-will-not-induce-me-or-give-me-drugs 3.5 hour labour. I found strength I didn’t know I had. And as j-man cracks 10.5kg at 9months old, I’m still finding strength I didn’t know I had!

Girls and cake

There’s a beautiful looking chocolate cake. It’s a big tall cake. It has a lot of layers. Fluffy frosting. Crunchy meringue. A berry coulis. A vanilla layer. Two chocolate layers. Cream. It is decorated with chocolate curls. You can see other people with the cake. You imagine the cake in your future. You crave it. You’d go out of your way to get your hands on it.

Finally, there is the cake, in your house. You eat a slice every day. Sometimes, it tastes amazing. The best thing ever. Some days, the icing is laced with chocolate laxatives. It gives you the sh$&s. Some days you don’t like meringue. Some days, the cream is off. Sometimes it just doesn’t taste how you expected it to. Believe it or not, Marie Antoinette, some days you just don’t feel like eating cake…but there’s no choice.

Mothering

Prior to becoming a mother, some twenty five years ago, I was very involved in my nieces growing up. I was the fun Aunty; I bought them books, cool clothes, I took them out. First concerts, first share houses, we did it all together. I felt like I had a pretty good clue about bringing children up.

On the one hand, this was true. I knew every day wasn’t unicorn farts and lollipops. I knew there were hours of pacing the floor and crying (you and them). I knew there were fun times. I knew there were hard times.

The things I didn’t know.

I didn’t know how all-encompassing it was. How, at first, a baby can erase you,
take you from a fully formed thinking feeling human being, to a series of impulses. I want to sleep. I want to eat. I want to walk. I want to shower. I do, I do, I do. Those early days in the “baby cave” you are reduced, simplified, taken back to the elemental. Their urgent survival impulses reduce you; you become more like them.

I didn’t know how much it had changed. How in our knowledge about children, our research into their growth, emotional, physical and intellectual development and safety, we’ve also complicated everything. That simple lightweight stroller now must have a five point harness, brakes, sunshade, meet several safety standards, and it ain’t lightweight. Leaving the house= kerfuffle. Wallet keys and phone? Yeah, right.

After perhaps six weeks, I felt as though I emerged, blinking, into the light, with a vague memory that I was once something other than this. Seized by powerful urges in the first mother’s group meeting to shout “yes but forget the baby. What about you? What do you do? What bands/authors do you like? Who were you before this….tornado?”

Those weeks are hard, but they are life simplified. It’s a four bar rest in the music of your life; you have support, visitors, a partner on leave.

Then the real show begins.

Then you move beyond the “fourth trimester” and start to wrangle a real living human being.

THE MOTHERHOOD JOB CONTRACT

You will work seven days a week, 365 days a year. There is no leave. If you find the time for leave, you will spend 80% of this time thinking about the job, texting about the job, or phoning to check on the job.

This will be the best job you’ve ever had. The pay is enormous, and consists of smiles,hugs, kisses, laughs, games, changes, resemblances and promises of things to come.

This will be the worst job you’ve ever had, with the most demanding boss. Your boss has no common sense whatsoever. If you drop a coin, your boss will eat it. Your boss will rub food into the shoulders of your favourite shirt. Your boss will crap on you. He will drink too much and puke on you. He will pinch and bite you. You will want to hit your boss. Or throw your boss out a window. Your boss regularly falls on his head, and requires your assistance to right himself. Your boss is fickle: he will reduce you to tears and take everything you have, demand a bit more, and then out of the blue fall asleep while you rub his tummy and melt your crusty old heart (the normal workplace harassment rules do not apply).

You will be angrier than you’ve ever been in your life.
You will be more tired than you’ve ever been in your life.
You will be happier than you’ve ever been in your life.
You will feel as though you don’t understand the point of anything.
You will feel as though you finally understand the reason for everything 
You can never be entirely satisfied with your job performance. Ever.

You should never underestimate the personal satisfaction of an eaten meal, a paired sock, a mastered shape sorter, or clapping. There will be lots and lots of clapping.

Risk assessment.

Your position requires constant risk assessments. Expert risk assessments. Examples include:
*Can I wash my hands while he is on the change table?
* If I go in the kitchen to chop his pumpkin, can I make it back before he falls inside the toy box?
*Is it worth risking a dash to the toilet to pee, or is it better to assist in the shape sorting and just hang on?
*How do I trade off the benefits of clean singlets by hanging out the washing against the need for a story?
*if I sing ba baa black sheep again, will I require medication? Is it worth it?
* if I get the incy wincy spider gestures wrong, will he eventually get ostracised at day care?
*is it better to sleep while he sleeps, or shower?

The impossibility clause

You can never win.

Let me just state that again. You can never win.

If you’re tired, he will wake up. If you’re ready to go, he will sleep. If you’ve prepared a nice meal, he’s not hungry. If you have little food in the nappy bag, he’s starving. If you have a book in the car, he’ll wake immediately on arrival. If you have nothing to read, he’ll sleep in the car for an extra hour. If you want to show him a strong intelligent career woman role model, he’ll have terrible separation anxiety. If you stay home, mum, he’ll be bored.

Your entire life will be a contingency plan.

And just when you accept this, and give in to the chaos, he will be an angel.

Anti competitive clause

Seeing your partner as a parent will make you love them in an altogether different way. (And as an aside, seeing your partner stand by you during 16 weeks of bed rest redefines the term “caring”. RESPECT, hub-in-boots).

At times, you won’t feel like you have enough concentration for a partner and a baby.

Then, the resentment may set in. Because, like it or not, those boob things are literally front and centre. They put you,the mother, in the centre of the whole shebang. You have a new expensive handbag you must take special care of, and take with you everywhere.

The husband, he still leaves the house and drives in a car on his own without strapping anyone in (except himself). He can go to the toilet solo. He still has an identity as a person. This can make you want to punch him in the face when he arrives home to your unshowered self and says geez I’m tired. Geez sitting at my desk eating lunch without someone tugging on my leg was tiring.

But it is amazing, watching this person of yours be a Dad. Help to grow another human being in a different way to you, which may or may not involve WWE moves. It makes former “just you and him” love seem as deep as a puddle. This? This love is a bloody ice sculpture.

100% juice: not made from concentrate

You know that brain you had? That amazing thing where synapses fired off electrical impulses like fireworks? That organ that made you the strong, independent woman that you are?

It has been steamed, puréed, and turned to mush. Like so much pumpkin.

You will go out for 8 hours and leave your front door(s) propped open*. You will leave your car door and your boot (trunk) open for five hours while it is parked on the street*. You will lose your keys*.
I’ve read that once you have a child, your heart is beating outside of your body. I think it’s your brain. I think a large chunk of your brain is walking around outside your body. And at this stage, it isn’t clear whether the condition is curable, or if there are speciality dementia wards to accommodate you.
*this really happened

You will spend much of your time craving adult company…and when you get it, you will find yourself mid conversation, and your brain will leave. It will be off performing a high wire logarithm without a net, doing calculations about the next nap / feed/ nappy change / meal, and by the time it’s finished this, the adult company will be gone.

You will feel constantly interrupted, even when you’re not. Split. Divided.

DISCLAIMERS

Redressing the balance

There is so much about motherhood that is overwrought, sickly sweet, that fails to capture the true contradictions and struggles it contains. The aforementioned contract in no way undermines the awesomeness of being a mum. It does however, aim to redress the balance. There’s enough mothers out there struggling with postnatal depression or anxiety feeling alone, wondering where the mythical land of ironed shirts and baked goods is. And people that say oh I’m just so in love with my baby make me want to puke, just a little bit.

Ducks swimming

Remember mothers are ducks swimming. On the surface, serenely gliding around a pond.

Underneath, they are paddling like mad against currents, kicking eels, hitting rocks, avoiding weeds, steering. All is not as it appears.

First World Problems

The aforementioned contract clauses gratefully acknowledge the existence of a roof over our heads, paid parental leave, clean running water, vaccinations, medications, a Medicare system, lack of war or rape, abundant food, fertility treatments, a happy marriage. The challenge of “having it all” is of course nothing compared to these challenges of “having, at all…”.

To the mothers, i-wish-i-was-a-mothers, step mothers, foster mothers, grandmothers, proxy mothers, surrogate mothers, adoptive mothers, bad mothers, good mothers, in between mothers, almost mothers in the infertility trenches, Happy Mother’s Day.

ozifrogozifrog of maybe baby, J-man, & the adventures of hub-in-boots in her own words: I, maybe baby/ozifrog, am a Sydney 41 year old professional woman, delightfully married for three years at long last, and started blogging as we went down a long long road to start a family. I’m a uni lecturer ex accoutant writer with a twisted sense of humour & a love of music & the arts….

Hub-in-boots is 46, a full time worker and AFL Umpires coach, motor racing enthusiast with a literary & artistic bent, a long time bachelor before being snaffled into this life, a love of music but no sense of rhythm and a warped sense of humour.

The j-man is our son, Jensen Angus, who was born August 2, 2012. He’s quite lovely.

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Comments

  1. Awesome post! You said it all 🙂

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  1. […] How do you solve a problem like a mother? – by ozifrog of maybe baby, J-man, & the adventures of hub-in-boots […]

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