Reflections on motherhood

This morning, as I was sitting in my chair by the window, I watched my daughter tinker with the keys of the cabinet at the far end of the living room. She turned the key several times but didn’t realized she had already unlocked the door. She push and pulled the whole thing, shaking the vase, the jewelry box and all the knick-knacks on top of it, desperately hoping (I assumed) that something will fall. She gave up after a while and wobbled towards the kitchen where my mother was washing the dishes. I could hear her giggle when she opened the cupboard.

I watched this scene in silence, a few meters away, like some sort of film playing in someone else’s life. She is my daughter and my love for her had grown tremendously in the last year but that moment felt like it wasn’t mine, that I was an outsider looking into a dreamy clip.

When I turned 30 I was obsessed with the idea of having a baby but looking back, I really couldn’t picture myself as mother. Watching my child from a distance and not being beside her, lovingly teaching her how to open that door, made me realized that I might not be in that motherhood mindset yet. That my daughter and I are two entirely different persons and except for those 9 months that she was living inside my womb, we will never be one again. She will find her own person as she grows older and I have to go back to mine as we go through this journey.

How do you really become a mother? I may have fitted myself into the textbook definition of one, adjusting my life to accommodate her in it. But is that enough?

Don’t get me wrong, I love her enormously, like I have never loved anyone else (except maybe myself). But is that how you become a “mother”?

Because right now, all I want to do is sit here in my living room, type my thoughts down, listen to Avicii who died today and do the things I used to do alone, be with myself without anyone interrupting me, especially by my daughter’s constant whining. I am certain that my life is never going to be all about my daughter.

Does that make me a bad mother?

Of course not. But to be able to stay sane in this rather difficult situation of juggling different roles in my life, I need to retreat to my solitary corner once in a while.

When I decided to become a mom, I promised myself I would do things my own way. I realized now that my way was quite different from the way that my mother and her generation of women, have raised their children.

I don’t dot on my child like other mothers on Instagram nor do I declare my bursting, unconditional love whenever I look at her. The reality is, there are tantrum days and sleepless nights and these often makes you want to explode from frustration, a picture that doesn’t often make it to the pages of #motherhood social media accounts.

I don’t talk incessantly about her with my friends or colleagues, unless asked, because I’ve been on the receiving end of such conversations and I it can be irritating.

I didn’t even had a baby scrapbook where mothers should be writing about their infant’s first smile, first steps, when the first tooth came out (does a health record book count?). I gave away (to my mother in-law) the clay with her baby footprints because I know it’ll just be gathering dusts sooner or later.

Of course I post photos of her online mostly because I am bored or needing some likes on social media (I am not ashamed to say that). I’m proud of her little accomplishments and cute habits but all babies have cute habits and everyday accomplishments so there’s really nothing special about that. And besides, I don’t take as many photos of her as I do my Michelin dinner for example. I put my phone away when I am with her, even if she is busy doing something else. She comes to me when she needs attention.

(How do Instagram mothers do that, do Instagram stories everyday, every single time they are with their children? How does that look like in real life, raising children with cameras constantly stuck in their faces?)

Does that mean I’m not being motherly enough? How do we define mothers these days anyway?

It’s been a year.

That’s how long it took for me to get back to my “normal” self, writing reflections like this one, working hard and finding pleasure in my work without feeling guilty about not feeling guilty that I’m leaving my child, planning solo trips and picking up on my reading.

Emotionally I feel a lot better, physically I’ve got a long way to go. Maybe because I am still breastfeeding. I don’t feel attractive anymore and it may take a while before I put on a pair of sexy lingerie, undress myself in front of a full-body mirror with the lights on and like the woman I’m seeing.

I don’t know if you could relate to this blabbering. I don’t even know how to close this post. I couldn’t think of anything “wise” to say (proper articles end with some quotable quotes, right?) to whoever may stumble upon this article in the future. This post is really not meant to entertain anyone, just to let my thoughts flow like I used to do.

But T, if ever you read this in the future, please don’t think that Mama didn’t love you when you were a baby. As you will learn about everything in life, things take time. This kind of love is new for Mama but day by day, I love you more and more. Even with your toddler tantrums.