It being Valentine's week, I have been thinking a bit about L O V E.
Next week, it will be four years since I discovered I was pregnant with my first child. I can hardly believe that so much time has passed, and what a journey it has been for all of us over those years. Someone very wise and close to me once told me: "all that a baby needs is a Mummy to love it".
When you think of all the paraphernalia that seems to go along with babies and small children in general, it might seem that's not entirely true. But when it comes down to it, the love I have for my children is like nothing I have ever experienced before, and could well be all that I need.
It was while I was labouring with my first child that I was suddenly hit by the enormity of what was happening. A bit late, you might say! That fear, where I had previously wondered if I would be okay with the delivery, now extended to the baby and an all consuming hope that she would be safe. It was, I suppose, my first taste of parental responsibility, and all part of the experience of becoming a mother. Instead of wanting to hear the music I had carefully selected for my mix-CD, I was content to listen just to the sound of the baby's heartbeat emanating from the monitor. That sound told me that she would soon be here, and that she was doing fine. It was all I needed.
I found a new appreciation for my own mother while I was giving birth, and in fact in the months and years that have since followed, that has grown with my daughter (and still more with my second daughter - how on Earth did my mum manage with 3, or Alt.Father's mum with 5!?). I have been watching "Call The Midwife" on BBC1 recently, and although I haven't yet read the books, I was struck by something one of the characters, a new mother, said:
“I didn’t realise how much my mum loved me
until I had her [the baby]. It is the
kind of love that only goes one way:
The writer of that line hit the nail on the head. Every single one of us was once somebody else's baby. I look at my 3.3 year old daughter sleeping, and all the stresses of the day, all the frustrations of dealing with a intelligent, determined little girl who is just finding her way in the world come together and the love that I feel can't even begin to be described. I find it somewhat unbelievable but extraordinarily special that my own mother once looked at me in the same way.
Now I don't want this post to be overly sentimental, so I'll freely admit that while I love my children dearly, there are certainly times when I don't particularly like them very much! It also seems that the 3.3 year old sometimes doesn't like me very much either! Yesterday, on being put in the supermarket trolley seat, she declared:
"I don't want you to live with me any more, Mummy, I'm going to go and live somewhere ELSE!".
Ah the world is so unjust when you're 3! We soon made it up, though, I'm pleased to report. "I love you sooooooo much!" she told me later the same day.
A fantastic book that I wish I had read sooner is "What Mothers Do: Especially When It Looks Like Nothing" by Naomi Stadlen. I found myself alternately laughing and crying, saying to myself, "this is exactly me!". It's one I can strongly recommend. That thing we're doing, when it looks like nothing, is loving our children.
For my part, I would just like to say thanks to my own mum, you were right - all that a baby needs is a Mummy to love it.