I have fallen into this place of contentment. Of contentment with motherhood. With myself. With life. I felt it the other night as I rocked my littlest in the chair that is our place to close out the day. His arm, wrapped around my shoulder. His hand clasped gently against my back. And the smell of ice cream still lingering on his skin from a summer’s eve snack.
It isn’t happiness, I thought to myself. Happiness — so full of hope and excitement, practically giddy over life’s events — no, it isn’t happiness. Because while I am happy, this has felt more steady than that. It’s a just rightness that I’ve been feeling in my chest. A weightless rightness. That is carried with ease. And I labeled it instead, as contentment. Sweet contentment. But really, I haven’t fallen into contentment. Not in the slightest. I’ve eased. Slowly but surely. Off and on between pregnancies, infants, and everything in between. Toes dipping one by one into the waters of motherhood. Working desperately, tirelessly, with each additional inch I waded into to get firm footing. To hold myself in that spot. To find contentment.
Because I wasn’t ready.
I wasn’t ready to be a mom. For all intents and purposes, I should have been. We planned. We set the wheels in motion. And it happened. I should have been prepared. That’s what we’d hoped for. It’s what people do. Fall in love, get married, have babies. So I was elated. And I was terrified. And then I was every single emotion that seemed to exist within me. Except prepared. That I was not. Because I think I knew that I didn’t have even a tiny little inkling regarding the reality of parenthood. And I didn’t know how wasn’t ready I was until I held our first born on me and realized the enormity of it all. It was then that I thought I have no idea how this is supposed to go.
I wasn’t ready for the reality of someone needing me twenty-four/seven. I wasn’t ready for carrying the emotions of two. I wasn’t prepared for the crying. Oh the crying. I wasn’t ready for the question marks. The rigorous feeding schedule. And the battle for each ounce. I wasn’t ready for feeling like a shower was a luxury. Or the laundry was endless. I wasn’t ready to completely uproot my identity as I knew it and give it up for my heart’s newest passion. I wasn’t ready for the middle-of-the-night-stumbling-through-the-darkness. I wasn’t ready for the loneliness that existed throughout the first six months. Or the separation I felt from my former life. The life I lived pre-motherhood. I wasn’t prepared for the force that was taking over my mind and making another person my every thought … every worry … everything. I wasn’t ready for all of the hard. And the way the hard would challenge everything I thought I was up to that point.
I wasn’t ready for the scent of a fresh box of diapers becoming a source of happiness. I wasn’t prepared for the joy I would derive from seeing another person smile. I wasn’t prepared for the melting away of the world when a little hand clenched onto my finger. I wasn’t ready for the need to have a photo of every expression, in the event that it might not happen again. Or for the need to make sure that every single thing I was doing was exactly as I was supposed to be doing it. I wasn’t ready for me to need him, any of them… maybe even more than they needed me. And of all the things I was ill-prepared for, perhaps the most was the way that holding a new life in my arms would remind me day after day of the fragility and brevity of life. I wasn’t ready for the everythingness. And the way the everythingness would, too, challenge everything I thought I was up to that point.
I wasn’t ready.
But as I think about the contentment I feel now as a mother, I know that I was probably never going to be ready. I was never going to be prepared. I was never going to have all my ducks in a row. I would never have arrived at this spot of just rightness as a mom if I had waited for my readiness. Because it has been motherhood — actually living and breathing and sleeping and waking motherhood, that has made me ready. Ready to be their mom, every day. And has brought me to this life that I love.
As I sat in my chair, smelling the sweet ice cream-skinned babe, I basked in contentment. Contentment in knowing that even though I wasn’t ready then, I am eternally grateful for where we are now. For getting to be their mom. And knowing that where we are, is right where we were meant to be. All along. Ready or not.