January 5, 2021

This is What it Means to Be a Mother.

The word “transformative” could sum up what it is to become a mother—”causing or able to cause an important and lasting change.”

But how can one simple word in the English language, or any language for that matter, describe what it means to hold a life in your arms, who you had never seen before, but who you already knew?

To bring from your body to your chest two blinking eyes and a hungry mouth, who by instinct alone knows that out of all the bright, frightening newness, that you are their safety—their comfort, their survival.

To know in the depth of your now-softened belly and the marrow of your widened bones, that despite no previous or comparable experience, you alone are equipped with the carnal knowledge of what is now needed of you.

No, you will find no word that embodies this miracle.

The months leading up to it, and that first moment of realization—exciting, yet scary. The weeks of having a quiet secret, adjusting to the idea of it all. The sensuality and vitality of your body as it grows, shifts, opens to accommodate the second life it now bears.

The inner knowledge that, even though you have never before bore new life into existence, you somehow know exactly what is to come and exactly what to do.

Did you wait for long, difficult years? Was it a surprise? No matter, it is exactly as it’s meant to be.

Then the moment comes. Those first pangs. Is this it? What you’ve been desperately waiting for? Or another trick of the body, preparing for what it knows to be true? And when it did come, was it what you expected? Were you swept violently into the throes of it all? Did you meet it with a calm knowing, or were you anxious? The time has come, and you are ready, whether you know it or not.

No matter how you delivered life, first from an idea, a wish, a cosmic plan, an intuitive and primal gestation, and finally a climatic and exciting entrance, it is here! It is here. My baby, you are here! Thank God. Thank the universe. Thank divine intervention. For this is nothing short of divine.

Life as you knew is done. What was once important no longer matters. What was once your vision has now entirely changed. The landscape of your carefully cultivated life has now bloomed into a garden of beauty and mystery that you didn’t know could exist in the natural world.

Who are you? Who is this awakened, raw person staring back at you with awe in the mirror? Whose body is this, now void of the second heartbeat inside, yet with an energy and instinct that cannot be equaled? Your womb empty of its inhabitant, but your arms filled with a love bigger than life itself.

Did you know? No, how could you? How could you understand what was coming when there are no words to explain? How could you know the beauty of the quickest hours in the longest days, filled with milk and blood? What is time, anyway, other than a platform to witness her grow, to change literally before your eyes? What are these tears that stream steadily out of happiness? Or is it relief? Or is it simple, profound, overwhelming love?

Suddenly, everything makes sense. Hindsight is 20/20, and the future is too—cemented in you like a blueprint of how, what, why. The only mystery left is how did you ever live before? But there is no before, and there is no after. There is only now. Never forget that.

The meaning of life, of existence itself, now defined solely by another. That is what it means to be a mother. But no. That’s still not it. You can’t put it into words.


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Stephanie Thomson  |  Contribution: 5,295

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