Saturday, March 6, 2010

Mama Bean is participating in a metanarrative called Parenthood. Come join her!

"How is motherhood? Everything it's cracked up to be!?! Be careful how you answer that; I am intending to have children one day."

This was in a facebook message from a friend I worked with at Starbucks in our Prairie Valley City. She's currently traveling in New Zealand, so I was touched she took the time to write a message. At first, I was ready to whip off a response: Motherhood is amazing! Bean is so cute and cuddly and fun! This was not at all what I expected, and so much more than I could have imagined!

And then I stopped to think about it. Is motherhood everything I thought it would be? Has being a parent been what I expected?

I appreciate her warning to be careful in my answer. Even the uninitiated realize this baby-raising, family-growing thing is not what sitcoms and romcoms and all other manner of -coms would have you believe. Though it is certainly comedic, at times.

The truth is, I don't think I had many expectations. I didn't know what being a mom would be like. I didn't spend much time around babies beforehand (though I sooo appreciate what I was able to glean from interactions with nieces and nephews and friends' kidlets.) During my pregnancy, I was completely focused on The Delivery. Maybe this is a consequence of choosing homebirth, I felt the need to really back up our decision, and sort of defend it to myself, because of all the unspoken (and spoken) concerns and judgment from others. And somehow, culturally or socially (or professionally) I had absorbed this message that giving birth was The Big Thing. I think it's akin to how The Wedding becomes this all-encompassing event, when really, it's a marriage you're getting into. Delivery just brings the baby out, but parenting... that's for life.

Everyone jokes that there are no manuals for babies. No one really knows what they're doing in the beginning, and we all just fuddle through it the same way. The babies survive, thank God, so clearly there are a multitude of ways to skin this proverbial kitten. It's trial by fire, isn't it?

Our good friends B and N are expecting this Fall. I am absolutely ecstatic for them! And for me. Excited for our friendship to grow in this dimension, too, just as we grew through university together, and getting married, and moving eastward, and now parenthood. Excited for Bean to have a little buddy. I have to restrain myself from overwhelming and oversharing and *gasp* overadvicing. Oh, yes, how quick we are to become baby-pundits ourselves!

I am just so pleased for them to experience the Joy and Wonder that I have felt since discovering Bean's existence that fateful Valentine's Day. For me, mama-hood brought me into a new community, and sharing stories and experience (and heartache and struggle) are integral to the mama-hood's function and participation therein. We've really noticed this with strangers when we're out in public; those who've had children (grandparents, especially) notice Bean through parents' eyes. They ask how old he is, they mentally compare his size and demeanor to their own children and grandchildren at that age, they comment accordingly. They want to know if we are participating as they did in this great big story called Parenthood. Those less invested in the parenthood drama notice Bean in passing, and demonstrate little curiosity. At least, that's what we've noticed.

I will tell my friend these things, that I had no expectations, that Bean surpasses them regardless. That every day is a surprise, which could mean surprise challenges and surprise struggles, but also means surprise smiles and surprise learning. And, as cliche as it is, I will tell her about the Love. How you cannot possibly imagine loving something or someone this much when you don't even know them, but it happens. And when I found that love, I wanted to tell everyone about it, and share it with other moms and parents, because I'm only pretty sure they totally understand.


  1. Sorry for the silent judgment. I still think you're a bit crazy, though.

  2. It was silent, so I didn't notice :) We probably are a bit crazy, but I'd do it again in a heartbeat. Will do it again, if the stars align.