So, before I had kids I was pretty certain that IF I had children, things would be a certain way. I thought, for reasons of simply not knowing any better, that I would have control. I would get to decide how this parenting relationship would go. My children would be an example of put in a little effort... do the right thing... the results would speak for themselves.
And, just as surely as I would emerge after childbirth saying to people, "I had no idea it would be that painful, no one ever told me" (although in hindsight it was really more that I hadn't listened when they spoke because really? How bad could it be if people kept doing it?), I was slapped in the face by the reality of parenthood.
When you are pregnant, your women friends who already have babies will try to tell you that getting that baby out of there is going to be difficult and painful. Some women are born to give birth. Well, OK, most women are born with the ability to actually GIVE birth... but some have an easier time with it. Their bodies handle pain better, their minds control fear better, and their reproductive systems seem to know better what to do at the right time. Then you have the rest of us. And by "the rest of us", I mean pretty much all but like three people that I personally know. The ones who tell you, in their sly way as to not scare you, "Keep an open mind about that epidural." Because to take a class in childbirth is to believe that pain relief is something that is truly optional. And I suppose, if I were in a third world country, even considered a luxury.
I'm here to tell you that for me? Epidural was not optional. Oh, I thought it was. I knew it would be "painful", but people have been doing this literally FOREVER, which is why we're all here. If it was that poorly designed surely someone would have caught on and stopped this madness. Right? Anyway, until you experience some things you simply do not have a frame of reference for the situation. Like not knowing that you were going to feel physical pain the first time your heart was broken.
Childbirth redefined pain for me.
Motherhood redefined love. And patience. And creativity. And madness, boundaries, relationships, judgement, sleep requirements, etc.
Before I was a mom, seeing a child acting out in public? Not on my watch. Not gonna happen.
Before I was a mom there was a lot of that going on. Not my kid, I will never let that happen, no way is that happening when I have children, oh how embarrassed they must be... you know. Judgy stuff.
One thing that used to drive me nuts? When a child over the age of about 3 called their mom "mama," and when a child of over about 6 called their mom "mommy." NO FREAKING WAY. I was not having that. That is ridiculous.
And then I had kids. Two daughters that - oh, they take my breath away. How overwhelming is the love, the protectiveness, the anger, the applause, the emotion, the everything. The absolute everything of being mama. The irrational warmth of being mommy.
My kids are 9 and 12. And I am still "mommy." To them both, when they are scared or need me at night, or want to crawl up for some evening snuggles because we just love each other? I am "mama."
I LOVE being mommy. I LOVE being mama. I hope that never stops. I'm hearing "mom" a lot more now than I used to, especially from the older one... but the others aren't gone. I hope they never go away.
Because before I was a mom? Well, I don't even know that person anymore. She thought she had so many answers... answers that I don't have even now. The difference is that now I know the questions are out there - and "pain" was not the only word redefined by giving birth. The word "never"? Ha Ha Ha! The only time you can use that word when you are a parent and have it be true is when you acknowledge that you NEVER know what having kids will bring. And while some what they bring is really tough, a lot of what they bring is really great even if it started out tough. And some of what they bring is just happiness and greatness the entire way through.
So on Mother's Day I will admit to the world that my favorite thing in the entire world to be called is "Mama". Because that was the first things my babies knew me as, who I was to them when they needed me most.
The me before I had kids? Not so smart. Not so wise. Not so "Mama."