motherhood is (three months)

Motherhood Is is a series of ponderings that I am writing as I figure out how to mother. It will include things I expected, things no one told me, things I learn about myself, about the world, about God, and about life through the lens of parenthood. 

i did not love motherhood upon first introduction.

nursing was painful.
sleep eluded.
and many of my days were spent on edge constantly trying to hold off his crying.
the sudden changes overwhelmed, and in the midst of joy for what we now had was grief for what we no longer had. sleeping in. staying out late. getting to do whatever we wanted, when we wanted to do it. spending too much money eating out. not having to schedule every minute around someone needing to eat every two hours.
it was a wonderful time and a confusing time. it was rough and it was grand. it was beautiful and it was terrible. anything that shakes up our lives is just so.
i loved him, and he needed me. and that was our relationship.
the love-at-first-sight that parents are supposed to have once their babies are born is not the same kind of love one has after getting to know someone. the love for a newborn is instinctual, an awareness that “this is mine to protect because i will die if he dies.” but that love stops there, and in many ways, is one-sided.
it took a while. but that love turned into a deeper affection. the kind that makes my heart physically ache because i can’t bear the full force of what i feel for my child when i look at him. the kind that melts me into nothing when he looks up at me while latched onto my breast.
every mother is different. and some may be fortunate enough to have that immediately. but for many of us, it takes time. the sweetest love for us is one that evolves slowly, one that crawls up to your side through quiet ways. one that swells ever so gently until there is nothing but that.
it worried me. all of the expectations i had, though i swore i was making none, were not happening right away. why didn’t i immediately feel like this was the most amazing thing that ever happened to me? why was it taking so long for this love to grow in me?
it’s hard to love someone when there is no overt form of loving you back. when you feel like you’re just a host to another organism. my mother has a theory that babies don’t become real people until three months, that pregnancy should last for a year. and while it’s all just jokes and fun, i see what she means. he only now really knows who i am. like really knows who i am. he’s always sensed me, i think. always known my voice, my skin, my smell. but now he can look into my eyes and smile. now he reacts to things. now he sees things. now, i know that perhaps he really does love me back.
and now i cry nearly every sunday night when our time together is ending again, and i have to go back to work.
now, i melt when all he wants is for me to hold him. (i also get deeply frustrated because i got other stuff to do that require two hands, like eat and pee and stuff, make no mistake about that.)
there’s a quote at the end of Anne of Avonlea that describes a love and romance that take time. the most beautiful kinds of love are the ones that are aged.
i get a little annoyed when people say things like, “you just wait,” mostly because they’re talking about a bunch of terrible things that await me as a parent. but there are also those who say, “you just wait,” because the love that is felt now is nothing compared to what will be had with each passing moment and each passing year.
as the lifeline that holds me to my child becomes even more intricate and complex, it will thicken and strengthen. and that takes time. and i’m okay with that.