I think very differently about mothers. Why do we use ‘Mama’s boy’ as an insult? Isn’t that a boy who loves his mama? What’s so funny about that? Let me confess right here and now that I sincerely hope I am raising a Mama’s Boy. And yes I confess that the day we came home from the hospital with little Amos, I cried a bit of the thought of him moving away from home one day.
A child is the greatest unleasher of love. We have not had to buy one single garment for our baby. They just appeared from somewhere. Most of the stuff we needed for our baby, clothes, night lamps, blankets, pacifiers, you name it, came from friends and relatives, who just appeared at our doorstep or sent us packages and embraced the wonder called a newborn.
It appears that a baby can teach you how to enter a time machine. You realize time on this earth really is very limited and we should use it wisely and lovingly. This has occurred to me stronger than ever before now that the little one is just growing and growing (looking at his birth photos makes me feel poignant even now, you know that delicate balance between wistfulness and happiness, also known as life).
Having a baby has not transformed me into someone who is only capable of talking about diapers and the like. On the contrary, I still have the same passions and ambitions for life. This has not changed and I have arranged things so that it has been possible for me to pursue those passions anyhow. If I have a bit of my own time (which is limited during the first months), I usually skip all other things and do things that make me genuinely happy (and feed my creativity): I read and I write. Voraciously.
The concept of courage has been redefined. Before Amos I had no problem camping under the stars near an active volcano close to the border between Ethiopia and Eritrea, a place known for tourist kidnappings. After Amos taking the tram is now an extreme sport. Stepping on a public transport vehicle with my 11-week-old makes my heart beat faster than ever. What if he wakes up and cries? I realize this fear has more to do with my fear of other peoples’ reactions. The shame factor is strong. I am working on that.
Here’s what I promise: I will not give any sanctimonious tips on how to be a great mother. I can only elaborate on what has worked for me: a strong belief in my innate motherhood. I believe that is something most women possess but it can be wavered if one gets too lost in magazines, websites and discussion forums that fill our heads with doubt. What has worked for me is getting to know my baby and learning how to speak his language and trusting myself. And when moments of uncertainty arise (inevitably they sometimes do), I have great people in my life to seek advice from.
I believe choosing your partner may just be the most important decision in your lifetime. If you choose well, things will be so much easier. I could not have enjoyed these first months of motherhood (or months to come) this much had I not had someone beside me who thinks it is totally natural to take part in household chores and parenting. Also it is good to high five with your partner as much as possible. I try to think of it this way that if we respect and adore one another we will still have fun together when our child one day moves out (sniff).
Music, dancing and singing can heal a lot. I often call my mornings jam sessions because Amos and I jam to all kinds of songs: he has fallen asleep to them for most of his first weeks, now we have really started to enjoy the dancing part more (he now enjoys sleeping on the balcony). Besides, when things get a little tiring, singing helps because it helps you not to think about those tiring things. You just sing.
It always helps when I think about Ethiopia. Did they have huge playgrounds in Bahir Dar? What about 10 different types of baby car seats? 12 brands of diapers? Stores filled with baby magazines and guides? Nope. And despite all of this, the babies were doing fine. I try and shelter myself and my baby from an excessive consumption hype.
It is okay to be happy. Having a baby is the best thing that has ever happened to me.