Off the Mat: On Motherhood
His cry has a different tone than I’ve yet heard in his 9 months of life. Urgency. Bewilderment. Entering his room, I see why. Child and crib covered in vomit.
Chubby baby arms reach toward me, fully confident that Mama can make all this right. Resisting the urge to recoil from the smell, I lift and comfort him as the next wave of puking begins. Aim into the crib? On the rug? In a split second, I realize the most comforting and most easily cleaned barf-target is…me. So I hold my sick, sobbing kiddo to my chest and let him throw up on and down my shirt. This, I think. This is motherhood.
A couple of years out of college, I worked at a residential program for teen parents. I ran the mentor program, recruiting, training, and supporting community volunteers to give these teens the one-on-one attention that could make a difference in their self-reliance and self-worth. Part of the training was asking potential mentors about their own transition to adulthood. To a woman, those who were mothers all named a new parenting moment – the first visit to the doctor, say, or the binky dropped from briefcase during an important meeting. In one such group, this universal response struck me, then 23 years old, single, childless, and fiercely defensive of my newly minted adult independence. To me, adulthood is paying my own bills. But clearly, I may feel differently if and when I become a mother.
Hewe, my toddler says, peeling a prized Trader Joe’s sticker off the waxy strip and placing it firmly on my cheek. Now evewybody knows who you awe.
Oh? I answer. How so? How does this say who I am?
It says you awe a Mama!
I can’t deny such truth. Nothing quite says motherhood like a sticker on your cheek.
Only recently did I notice that my mother’s hands are now attached to my arms. The rings are different – no pale blue oval Cameo on my right hand, though my wedding bands are white gold, like hers. Knobby knuckles, prominent veins, dry wrinkles, slender lines. The hands I remember as Mom’s are mine now. Those/these fingers gently grasping the tiny china tea set she kept under a plastic dome. The precious 5 minutes she’d spare to serve me pretend tea. I have no idea whether the set was from her childhood or a newer knickknack. Just that I couldn’t touch it without her there to handle the delicate pieces with her delicate hands.
A precious morning with a younger generation friend and new mom, swapping birth stories with a woman who was a teen when mine unfolded. Expressing her surprise to find herself watching her milk-drunk son sleep on my lap. I can’t believe I’m his mother. I don’t feel like a mother. And yet, almost in the same breath, I’m so taken with him. Just want to sit and watch him all day. Yes, dear one, yes. All this and more. Welcome to motherhood.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Pain specialist, yoga instructor, and Reiki practitioner Ginny Hamilton teaches simple & proven techniques to release pain & restore energy in the workplace, group classes & private sessions. She has put down roots in South Amherst with her spouse and young son. Daily she’s amazed by the beauty the Pioneer Valley offers, though her allergies beg to differ. In Off the Mat, Ginny explores how yoga’s physical and mindfulness exercises help her parent and how parenting shapes her yoga practice. http://www.ginnyhamilton.com