Early Lessons In Motherhood


In two months, my first son Henry has learned:

— to smile out of response… not just gas.

— 1,000 other expressions, like a language all of their own.

— how strong his legs are.

— how strong his vocal cords are.

— his musical preferences : reggae, STYX, and Fergie, especially when performed by mama.

— his kiss preferences—not Huskies (we have three and their 17 puppies ) and not on his feet.

And I have taken two months to learn that time passes so quickly it is tragic and so slowly it loses meaning. That emotions are in such great contrast they become paradoxical, and though confusing, these are the most real of feelings. That the most precious things escape permanence—photos and words are a far second to presence. I have learned that everything is amplified in motherhood: regret, prayers, pee, weather, hunger, everything except sleep. That never has surrender been so soothing; never has indecision been so rampant. And that you never have to fear you are doing the wrong thing, because never has there been anyone so perfect for you placed first in you and then right there with you.

Together, Henry and I are learning.

And it will likely be that way through all of this. I do not expect to ever truly know. And perhaps that is a grace we mothers ought to offer up to ourselves—not to ever know. Instead, to replace the intellect and literature, the most current (and temporary) research, the sleep formulas and insistence on routine, the play dates in the company of other mothers who “know,” with experience. With being there for it all. For reinviting the natural rhythm you, and only you, and your babe, and only your babe, have quietly had since you began carrying them. Maybe instead we try on trust that we are this human’s mama for a reason and that reason is simply being revealed in the process of restless nights, tantrums, spat out avocados, feasted on avocados, all the selves that they define their total self by as you add to your own collection a few identities you never knew and lose some you hardly recognize for this wild newness. Yes, maybe we choose this life with this babe as it contracts and expands, as it unfolds. As we do. Maybe there is no schedule, only complete availability to it all.

And maybe that means utter chaos. I don’t know.

I don’t know.

I’m only learning.