Oh, I remember so well when motherhood was pretty. In fact, pretty is an inadequate adjective to describe the radiant beauty I felt in being a mother. I virtually shone with inner light. When I was with my children, my hair glistened, my smile glowed, and my joyous, heart-felt laugh rang like a chorus of bells. I wrapped myself in my children and we were breathtaking.
Oh, I remember well how beautiful my children were. We walked down the beach, in rolled-up jeans. We skittered up the sand as the waves broke over our feet. They giggled and squealed. My heart nearly burst of love. I would stop, overwhelmed that my heart could hold as much love as this. How could it not burst?
Oh, I remember their first violin lessons. When they held the tiny instruments in their small hands. Running their fingers carefully over the polished wood. The little start of glee I saw start in their eyes and then creep down to their lips the first time they drew the bow across the strings. Even the squeaking and squawking practice couldn’t diminish their joy, or mine, in seeing them so happy.
Oh, I remember how perfect and frail my children looked when they were sick. Wrapped tight in a blanket of fleece, and my love. Flushed from fever. Their soft hair brushing warm cheeks. Crying soft, nearly silent tears. All of us. Them from the pain, and me from the pain of watching them suffer.
Oh, I remember. I remember the transcendent, quiet beauty of being a mother.
Then, I remember, that this all happened in my tiny little pea-brain years before I ever actually had kids. Then…..I went and had them.
Then, oh, my hair glistened all right. It glistened from the natural oils your scalp produces when you can’t spare 5 minutes in 5 days to take a shower. And that bell like laugh, was in fact, more of a going-to-snap cackle that turned my husband’s hair white (it has incredible power, that laugh. I’ve seen it melt popsicles).
And, oh, they were beautiful. They were gorgeous. When they were sleeping. But when they were awake, and strolling down the beach, it was a chorus of whining about damp pants and sniveling about sand between their toes. And the skittering? That was actually galloping away from me as I chased them down the beach threatening to bonk them with a conch shell.
Then, oh, ohhh, ooohhhhh that first violin lesson! When I wondered what on Earth possessed me to place a one-child-torture device in the hands of a three year old! It’s like asking a pyromaniac to hold on to your matches for you. Certain disaster is sure to follow! Believe me, it’s not pretty to see a harried woman chew her way through a miniature bow. Not attractive. At all. And damn, it’s tough to get horse hair out of your teeth.
And, oh, oh my. How frail they were when they were sick. Weak, except for their voices, bellowing in my ear, after they’d just thrown up down the back of my neck as I was bent over the toilet being sick myself. And wrapped in the fleece? Me. Strictly to protect my facial orifices from the next bout of projectile vomit sure to be aimed at my head.
Oh, I remember when motherhood was pretty. Way back, way back, at the back of my imagination. Motherhood was pretty when I was pretty damn green (inexperienced, not nauseous). The beauty of motherhood kinda matches my belly–the before and after. Before kids, it was glorious. Flat, smooth and sweet. After kids, it’s lumpy, creased and sad.
Ah, the innocence of youth….mine, not my kids.
My advice? Stick with the imagination kids. They’re cute, clean, cuddly, and sweet. And they will never, ever wipe snot on your best blouse.