The Myths of Motherhood
"Real is something we become gradually, as we face life vulnerably, returning to God over and over and finding ourselves loved, even when life hurts, when it does not make sense, when we are angry or afraid." --Brenda Waggoner
Once upon a time, a mother was born.
Though she'd dreamed about becoming a mom for years, her dream became a reality the instant she held her baby in her arms for the first time. Ohhh, she'd been imagining how that tender moment would feel. She'd heard descriptions and seen new moms on television shows crying and making utterances of great joy as they gazed adoringly at their precious little babies. Obviously they felt overwhelmed by waves of intoxicating, pure maternal love. After all, good moms instantly feel a powerful bonding love for their babies.
Yet reality surprised her. She eagerly took her baby into her arms—this stranger she had longed to meet—and put her face close to his. She touched his perfect little ears and ran her fingers over his petal-soft skin. His head, misshapen a bit from the birthing process, was topped by a mass of dark curly hair. (Where did that come from? she wondered.) As she looked into his murky grey eyes, she felt a stirring of unfamiliar, tangled emotions deep inside her. Love, yes, but also an odd kind of fear and self doubt. Who are you, my child? Will I know how to love you for a whole lifetime? Will I be a good mom?
"Isn't he beautiful?" her own mother cooed, peering at this new grandchild she'd traveled halfway across the continent to greet.
"He is . . ." the new mother agreed. (Of course he looked beautiful to someone who'd traveled so far on so little sleep.)
In her first night at home with her newborn, the new mom faced other surprises.
The baby cried at 2 A.M., and she lovingly fed him. Then she changed him. Then she burped him. Then she patiently rocked him and tried to feed him some more. But an hour later, he was still fussing, and she felt fatigued and frustrated. Good moms instinctively know what their babies need, so moms who don't must be incompetent.
A few minutes later, her mother appeared at the bedroom door. "Let me take him into my room for the rest of the night so you can get some sleep, honey," she offered.
"Thanks, but I'm doing okay," the new mom said, because she knew that good moms sacrifice themselves for their children, joyfully and selflessly, and don't ask for help from others.