Motherhood. No book, no seminar, no lecture, no friend can prepare you for what is about to happen. The minute you push a yelling baby into the world, everything changes. Your body, your mind, your heart, your soul are focused on stopping the yelling. You fall in love with this tiny creature – deeply, fiercely, irrevocably. You feed, you clean, you cajole, you fret, you cry, you laugh and discover it’s not quite six o’clock in the morning yet. The first smile, the first hug, the first word – every single accomplishment leaves you diliriously happy. Outside of the walls of your house, life goes on, people go to work, drive cars, climb mountains, do things while you are stuck inside, desperately trying to figure out what the hell you’re supposed to do.
And by the time you’ve more or less figured out how to get baby to sleep/eat/crawl/walk/talk/behave he or she is two with a will and a determination that boggle the mind. You start looking forward to that glass of wine tonight, the one that will take the edge off so that you don’t become completely insane. For the next two years you start from scratch, you cry, you pray, you worry while desperately trying to get your sleep-deprived brain to figure out what the hell you’re supposed to do.
He/she goes to school, reads, does maths, contradicts you every few minutes because that’s not what the teacher says. You’re not the number one go-to person anymore. You discover you’re a lioness when anyone dares to mess with your child. You will attack, use any weapon on hand while figuring out what the hell you’re supposed to do.
High school is a completely different planet. The sweet child of yesterday turns into an alien, one with secrets, hushed conversations over the phone and a life behind his/her bedroom door that doesn’t include you anymore. You lose your cool, you pray, you cry, you yell while trying to figure out what the hell you’re supposed to do.
And then he/she is a student. If you’re lucky, they live with you while enjoying this short respite before life happens. You have actual conversations with your child, he/she is interested in your opinion again. When you go to bed, they go out and you worry, you pray, you smile, you support, you cry while trying to figure out what the hell you’re supposed to do.
And then one day, he/she leaves the house. You call. Three times a day. There’s a hole inside of you that no amount of chocolate can fill. They struggle, they grow, they become stronger, they fall in love. Another person is now part of his/her life and you pray, you worry, you cry while trying to figure out what the hell you’re supposed to do.
They get married. You discover an invisible line in the sand. Who drew it and why it’s there, you have no idea but if you cross it, there’s a quick frown, an irritated word and you cry, you pray, you worry while trying to figure what the hell you’re supposed to do.
And slowly you discover the girl inside you again, the one you lost with that first yell all those years ago. You get back to your life, discover things you want to do. You have time for friends, for your husband, for travel, for life. You realize though, you can never be that girl again, the hole inside you will never close up completely, you will never stop worrying, praying, supporting your kids because however hard you try, you are never really going to figure out what the hell you’re supposed to do.
And it’s okay. Somehow with prayer, help from your friends and many, many glasses of wine, you’ve muddled through the whole child-rearing thing. Your kids are flying solo. Now and again they will turn to you when life throws a curve-ball. And you’ll pray and worry and fret and laugh and cry while you hug them when they’re trying to figure out what the hell they’re supposed to do.