Having children does a lot of things to you. It changes your body, your sleep regime, affect your finances, but most of all it affects the way you see the world and the way you feel.
Love can make these emotions feel like nothing you’ve ever felt:
One day, I felt an immense sense of pride, while watching my children play together. They were displaying all of the behaviors that I had painstakingly tried to teach them – the behaviours I thought they had ignored.
The eldest was gently showing his sister how to put the blocks together and she was looking at him adoringly, without snatching. There were ‘pleases’ and ‘thank-yous’ and lots of love passing between them. It was a beautiful thing to witness and my heart swelled with pride. Pride that my children were acting in a kind and caring manner, pride that my children were learning how they should treat others.
I had not known this type of pure pride until I had children. From there I thought about the other emotions that have been heightened as a result of motherhood. A few sprung to mind, embarrassment, the well known guilt, amazement and of course love. Yes I felt these emotions prior to having kids but they became supercharged with the introduction of my two little monsters. This piece is an attempt to explain how those emotions have developed as I’ve embraced parenthood.
“Man is the only animal that blushes. Or needs to.” ~ Mark Twain
As a parent you have to learn how to handle embarrassment because it comes in spades when you have children. My kids are extremely outgoing and love talking and this opens me up to all sorts of embarrassment.They will tell anyone how many times I’ve been to the bathroom, whether I showered or brushed my hair and what I really think of the neighbours’ dog.
Then there are the things they do which are unbelievably embarrassing. These things could include pulling down their pants in public, sticking their hands down my top to get their hands warm, blowing their nose on my sleeve and trying to pinch their friend’s toys and hide it in a nappy bag.
But thankfully, embarrassment dies with experience and I feel that you grow immune to it as you become more used to it.
“Guilt has very quick ears to an accusation.” ~ Henry Fielding
Guilt is awful, just awful, it rears its ugly head whenever you let it. Whether you’re a stay-at-home mom or a working mom you feel guilty about the time you spend with your kids and regardless of when you wean your child or send them to school you feel guilty about doing it too early or doing it too late.
I remember when one of my children was in hospital, he had been through a bad bought of gastro and we couldn’t get his blood sugar levels up. I confided to one of the nurses that I felt awful for allowing him to get so ill. She assured me that we had done everything we could have but he needed a drip. Walking away the nurse turned and asked me if that was what being a mother was like – doing everything you can but still feeling guilty.
Mom guilt is not new to our generation of moms but with the introduction of social media I find that the scope for quick guilt has grown. I can open Facebook, Twitter or google anything and immediately compare myself to other parents, open myself up to criticism and accept other people’s views on raising my kids which I turn makes me feel guilty. There is also so much information to absorb that it feels like there is so much to do wrong.
We all feel guilt and we all compare ourselves to books or other moms but you know what that makes us okay moms – we want to do better, we want to be better which tells me that we are good enough because we care!
“Amazement awaits us at every corner.” ~ James Broughton
My children astound me almost everyday, in good ways and in bad. The way they learn amazes me in a good way and the things they pick up from school that I don’t want them to amazes me in a bad way.
But isn’t it astounding how children learn to walk and talk within a matter of months but when it comes to rehabilitating an adult who has suffered an injury it takes them so much longer – these little bodies are things of wonder. Similarly how a little baby can go from being completely helpless to crawling fast enough to turn a corner when you turn your back for a second.
“Love is when the other person’s happiness is more important than your own.” ~ H. Jackson Brown, Jr.
If you’re a parent and you’re reading this you know this feeling well enough. You absolutely DON’T need me describing it to you. You know the feeling that makes you want to grab your child and squash them with all your might, the feeling that makes you want to watch them sleep even though you are exhausted and the feeling that makes you want to litter your social media with hundreds of pictures of them.
I thought I knew what love was, I thought I understood its strength because of my close familial ties and because of my deep love for my husband but I didn’t really. The love you have for your children is blinding and pure.
In becoming a parent you learn more about love than you can in any other way. It shows you how your own parents loved you, how special it is to share children with someone and how close family bonds are between sibling. I suppose parental love is like wearing glasses when you’ve been stumbling around not knowing that your vision is impaired, suddenly you love in an amazing new light.