The anecdote I'm about to share has been relayed to me many times, but I was too young to recall it firsthand.
Out grocery shopping with my mom as a young girl, I'd approach parents with babies in their carts and ask them pointed childcare questions in the middle of the bakery section: "When did you give your baby a bottle?" "Did you change her diaper?" "How often does he nap?"
For as long as I can remember, I've been gaga over babies. I have wanted one since I practically was one myself.
I grew up and yada yada yada--life happened--and I ended up waiting longer than I'd expected to have a child. You see, I wanted to find the right person to share my life and a family with, but I didn't meet my
until my late 30s.
I married him at 40, and then, six months ago, we had our baby girl. At 41, at long last, I got to answer to the name "Mama."
I love everything about being my daughter's mom. I love that when I sing the Passover song
to her, she giggles hysterically. I love dance parties with her. I love lifting her out of her crib in the morning, the sunshine beaming down on her sweet, gummy smile. And, I love this feeling of contentment that washes over me when I rock her in my arms at the end of the day, her tiny hand clutching my thumb as I calm her down with a rendition of
Here Comes the Sun.
I don't even mind the more odious elements of parenthood--the diapers, the sleep deprivation, or now performing activities that typically require two hands with one, as my daughter often occupies the other.
During my maternity leave, I had a date with my nemesis--the dentist, who I dread more than any other doctor. But I had to get a cavity filled, so I schlepped the baby with me. Just as the drilling was about to begin, she started wailing from hunger. So, the empathetic dentist (and a mother herself) allowed me to feed my daughter a bottle with one hand, while she worked on my mouth simultaneously. My usual dental angst vanished as I could focus only on my baby's primal need to eat.
Perhaps I don't mind the not-so-fun stuff that accompanies motherhood because it took me a long time to have her, and now even the chores feel like a blessing.
My dear friend, also in her 40s, recently gave birth to her daughter. Like me, she had forever dreamed of having a baby. In a late-night phone texting session, as we both fed our daughters in our respective homes, we marveled to one another about how much we're loving motherhood. Something she said that night still resonates with me. "What do you do," she texted, "when you get your biggest wish?"
When moms with children older than mine ask me how I'm enjoying motherhood, I'll
about my baby girl. "Just wait," they'll respond. "It gets even better." That's hard to imagine, but then again when I watch my mom with her own grown daughters, my sister and me, and now her grandchildren, I know that must be true.
There's no doubt that springtime in self-quarantine has tested us all. But, for some of us fortunate enough not to have the coronavirus hit close to home, getting some extra time--though chaotic--with our kids has been a rainbow in the storm of this pandemic. Granted, I recognize that my husband and I have it easier than many parents, being responsible for just one small child, a pre-crawler too young for homeschooling--or arguing with Mom and Dad.
As a new mom, I gravitate to a quote by Dr. Wendy Mogel, a clinical psychologist whose therapy is rooted in Jewish teachings and who has authored multiple parenting books. Mogel writes, "The children we teach pass the light we kindled in them on to their children, and it goes on glittering."
During these long months at home, I often daydream about the person my daughter will one day grow into. I pray she will always be happy, healthy, kind, fulfilled, and comfortable in her own skin.
And as her mom, I hope to help ignite in her the spark that will always go on glittering.