It's 9:30 pm, and my son is milk drunk and ready for sleep. After rocking him for 15 or 20 minutes, I know it's safe to move him to his bassinet. The depth of his slumber is more than capable of keeping him unconsciously peaceful.
I stare at his tranquil face and am overwhelmed by his presence. In that small, seemingly insignificant moment, my breath is baited, as if at any second he will vanish and I will be without him.
I kiss him lightly on the cheek and gently brush back his impossibly soft hair, reminding myself that, yes, he is real.
It's a paralyzing moment about which many a mother has warned me; an instant I silently cherish.
Then, the moment passes, and I am left wanting. It's not that those moments with my son don't mean anything to me. They do; they just aren't enough.
He isn't enough.
If I cared about what other people thought, I'm sure I would be more than hesitant to admit that my son is not, in fact, my entire world. I've always found that statement by mothers and fathers to be more detrimental than endearing.
Are we not multifaceted human beings? Are we not a varying scope of emotion and desire? I know I am.
I couldn't imagine the entire breadth of my being dwindled down and concealed to one human, no matter how overwhelming my love for that human may be. Before I gave birth, no single instance in my life defined my essence.
Why is it, then, that many a mother allows birth to become her only defining quality? Are we not capable of more than just reproduction? Doesn't that fact, and that fact alone, perfectly embody the power every woman carries within her?
The truth is, while my son is incomparably amazing, he is but one part of my life. His father is another part. Before our son was born, my son's father was a priority in my life. A priority that not only required, but deserved my time, attention and affection.
Does he suddenly become an afterthought? Is that motherhood?
Does it mean I truly love my son if I begin to disassociate myself from my friends? Especially the friends without kids? My stretched uterus didn't leave me incapable of caring about their boyfriend troubles or horrible first dates or wonderfully crazy families.
They are as big a part of my life now as they were before I peed on a stick. Why should that change?
Then, of course, there's my career. It was my firstborn, long before my feet were in the stirrups and I was counting to 10. Now that its constantly-pooping counterpart is here, does my career fall by the wayside in the name of procreation? Would that mean I love my son any more than I already do? Doubtful.
Yet, when someone says his or her child is the whole world, I feel somewhat broken. Perhaps I'm missing that quintessential part of a woman's DNA that makes maternity enough. Perhaps I am a bad mother, whose constant need for more out of life has left her incapable of making her child the center of her universe.
Or maybe, I am just like every other mother: varied in her desires, yet convinced that voicing said ambitions would reflect poorly on her parenting.
Maybe I am like every other mother who, if her child really were the whole world, would be left with holes in the very voice that shakes her veins. Holes that even the tiniest of feet and the cutest of hands couldn't fill.
Maybe, just maybe, I'm like every other mother who does a disservice to the synapses that form her persona by defining herself as a single, lone entity; an entity completely dependent on another human being.
At least, I hope I'm like those mothers out there. If they are, in fact, out there.
One day, sooner than I can imagine, my son will leave the house I've built for him. He will go out into the world and I will hope that it will be vast and exciting and larger than the four walls in which he grew up.
I will hope, with all that I am, that I will be but a small part of the life he will build for himself. I will wish, on every clichéd star, that he learns and grows and becomes hungry for the deepest corners of humanity's secrets.
And, mostly, I will hope that he will have inherited that hunger from his mother. Because when he does leave and embark on his own personal journey, I won't be left broken and lost. My world won't end because he was just one part of it.
A large part, no doubt, but just a part, nonetheless.
Photo Courtesy: We Heart It