Saturday, October 22, 2011

Motherhood Crack

Before you have kids, you inevitably hear about what it's like.  In my case, I heard a lot of negatives.  Sometimes it was a bit hard to grasp why people kept having kids.  I didn't really understand the positives.  I assumed they were there, and I assumed they were big, and I assumed (more like hoped) that someday I would understand.

So then I had Jane, and we were sitting in the hospital room and she was three hours old and Michael and I were just looking at her like - You are the coolest person ever.  And I wanted to do it all over again, right there, and have a million more, and right then I couldn't understand the negatives.  There were negatives?

They inevitably came.  Days when I was really tired and was unsure how to keep chugging.  There are tough things about being a mommy.  But I thought it would be long periods of the negatives... like long periods of depression and fatigue and feeling like crap.  Instead, what it turned out to be was more like being bipolar.  I called it Motherhood Bipolarism.  Because I could be crying from fatigue or whatever, and then 20 minutes later I'd be holding Jane and be like, "Ohmigod, I'm so happee!"

Months passed.  Jane started walking, started having little emotions, started to toddle around the house.  And she would fall down and bump her toe or her knee or her head, and she would lift herself up and come running into my arms and would cuddle her little head into my neck and stop crying and that's when it hit me: the Motherhood Crack.

Because it's so much more than just a bipolar disorder now, it's a full-fledged heroin addiction.  When it's good, it's Soooo, Soooo, sooooo good.  Jane throws her little arms around my neck and snuggles into me and my whole body floods with endorphins or something like them.  I wonder sometimes - maybe I shouldn't coddle her?  But then I'm like "what the heck" and I just let her snuggle and cuddle and then she smiles at me and oh my gosh! it is so good.

I'm shaking just thinking about it.  But then, you have the inevitable lows.  You're tired and the baby is fussy and won't eat her food and instead just throws it on the floor, and you're starting to go through withdrawals, feeling lethargic, wondering where you can get your next fix, feeling frustrated and irritable and generally mad.  Why did I sign up for this again?  How long do I have to do this again?

And then your baby gives you a kiss for the first time.  A real, puckered-lip, kiss.  And then she smiles and laughs.  And you think, "Ohmigod, I'm so happeeeeee.  Everyone should be doing this, why aren't more people doing this?"  Or maybe it's not a kiss.  Maybe it's watching her dance for the first time, picking up her little feet and then throwing out her arms and spinning with a big smile.  Maybe it's seeing her reach out her little hand and touch your face for the first time.  Maybe it's the first time she calls you "Mama."  Maybe it is all of those and more, all the firsts and every time after and each one is like an injection of pure joy.

So there it is: for me, being a mommy is like being addicted to Motherhood Crack.  The highest highs you've ever felt, with occasional crying.  I'm a total addict.  

That's how it is for me, but I'm not sure this is a general rule.  I know some people who didn't feel happy for the first few months of being a parent, or who felt good at first but then had pretty bad depression several months after becoming a parent.  If you have kids, what was it like for you?  Is it still that way or has it changed?