There’s a belief that you don’t really appreciate your mom until you’ve become a mother. Well, I disagree. I always appreciated my mom and admired her! But I developed a new found respect for the institution of motherhood when I popped out a baby and actually had to raise it.
I’d seen the funny movies with frazzled moms with gummy bears stuck in hair, of women frantically digging through their purses for their wallets or car keys and pulling out a half empty bag of animal crackers or a pacifier (which is no longer called a pacifier by the way, but some ridiculous name like “binky” or “ba-ba”). I thought those movies were joking or exaggerating. You know: Mom , who can’t get her ish together, is slowly being driven crazy by her progeny. Ha-ha! Oh, that was a good laugh.
I didn’t know those movies were for real! Guess I should have watched more episodes of Teen Mom and taken notes.
I’m a new mom and I have to say on an average day I can expect to get covered in some bodily fluid – either baby puke, poo, pee, or if I’m lucky, just drool. Most days it’s a combo. I’m lucky when I’m alone at home with her if I have a chance to shower before noon. Using the bathroom with the door closed has become a thing of the past. My meals consist of food that either can be made with one hand (got a baby in the other) or cooked in less than five minutes. Sometimes I can splurge when she’s asleep in her mama roo or her carrier and microwave a burrito and make a salad. When I eat those meals, you’d think I was dining at a 5-star restaurant from how much I enjoy myself and savor the moment. I’d better, because I know it won’t be too long before my baby starts crying again or I have to change her or feed her. All phone conversations are now conducted in abrupt segments:
“Girl, did you see that thing on TV last night? It was so… Wait, let me call you back. Chloe’s crying. Bye!” (*hang up)
“Yes, ma, I got the card from Aunt Rachel. I was going to… Oh, somebody has a stinky butt! Gotta’ change her diaper. I’ll call you back! Okay? Talk to you later!” (*hang up)
“Yes, I know you want to talk to me about that new credit card offer but my baby is about to roll off the bed and kill herself!” (*hang up)
You’d think I’d be suicidal or homicidal from becoming the handmaiden to a 10-pound pooping machine, but I’m not, shockingly, and I credit drugs. . . lots and lots of naturally-produced drugs a.k.a hormones, and thank God for them! According to scientists, the hormone, oxytocin, is the culprit. Researchers found that mothers with a high level of oxytocin the first trimester engaged in more of the bonding behaviors after birth. “Also, moms with lots of the hormone during the entire pregnancy and in the first postpartum month were more likely to sing special songs to infants and otherwise treat them special. They also worried more, checking on the infants more often than other mothers,” according to one article.
These levels increase the more you touch and kiss your baby.
So there you go! I’m slowly being doped into loving the Jelly Bean, but that’s OK. I appreciate what Mother Nature is doing because I do love my baby. I love her curls. I love her tiny toes. I love her laughs and even her cries. I love her so much that I know I’ll be a big ball of mess when my maternity leave is over and I have to hand her off to her babysitter. Chloe won’t be the only one sniffin' and snottin' on that day.
So when she gets older and claims her mother is completely insane, I’ll hug her, hold her close, and whisper into her ear, “If I’m crazy, you made me this way.” Blame Mother Nature and all that damn oxytocin!
- From magazine editor, novelist, and Black Girl Nerds contributor, Shelly Ellis