“I hear so often that your entire life changes when you have a baby. But I just really want to know how… How exactly does it change? Like, specifically.”
As we walked down the sidewalk on a cool spring day, my best friend, who was pregnant with her first child, asked me this question. I suddenly felt very nervous, as if I were in an interview and my answer was going to be highly scrutinized and dissected to its core. How can I possibly narrow down the specifics of a life-altering experience? I racked my brain and let out an anxious chuckle as I grasped at how to articulate all the million ways my life changed when I became a mother.
“I think the biggest thing that changed for me is… time. Before kids, I thought I was busy. I thought I had a never-ending to-do list. I thought I was overwhelmed. But I had NO idea what busy was. After kids, you literally have no time. You are working 24/7, whether it’s at a job or at home or both. You are constantly taking care of everyone else’s needs. All. The. Time. It never stops. And it’s the most exhausting and overwhelming thing you’ve ever done. You’ll sacrifice so much… but it’s so worth it because you will finally understand what unconditional love is.”
I vividly remember the moment I realized what being a mother meant. My first daughter, Jackie, came as a happy little surprise. Although I certainly didn’t feel ready to be a parent, at the ripe age of 27, I found myself with the most precious bundle of joy. There was a flood of emotions as I navigated the waters of motherhood, especially when it came to being a working mom. My entire perspective changed one night, as I rocked and nursed my sweet baby to sleep after a long day at the office.
I realized that motherhood is a thankless job. It’s expected. It’s commonplace. It’s just what you do. There are no awards given to the best mom. No “Mom-of-the-Month...” (although there should totally be!). You don’t get a raise for doing an exceptional job. No one congratulates you on calming a screaming baby or praises you for changing 50 diapers in a day. There is no recognition for how many times you woke in the middle of the night and no trophy for the fact that you are still able to run on three hours of sleep (barely). And all that hard work you pour into making and sustaining this tiny human will never get you a promotion.
But the paradox is that being a mother is actually MORE rewarding than any amount of acknowledgment you could ever receive. To experience the love a mother has for her child is beyond anything I can begin to describe. It’s supernatural. It’s divine. And that’s what keeps us going at 1 a.m., and 3 a.m., and 5 a.m. … through the blowups and blowouts, the baby blues and the bliss.
Motherhood is a thankless job that I, for one, am so very thankful to have.
By Tamara Slocum