IT’S a funny one, reflecting on what motherhood means to you, and I’ll be honest, it took me the guts of about a month to put my thoughts together on the topic, mainly because motherhood is busy and doesn’t often allow for the sort of self-reflection required for such a big question. That said, it’s a question we could probably all do with mulling over from time to time, not least because a bit of inward thinking is healthy and useful.
Motherhood has heralded a change within me that I could never have anticipated. I was once a young, ambitious woman in a man’s world (I studied Civil Engineering, so I mean that quite literally I was surrounded by men!), ready to take on the world, to burst through glass ceilings and all those things we as women nowadays are supposed to aim for.
And then, over the space of seven years, we had four daughters and during those few short years my whole idea of ambition and life and work changed drastically and irrevocably. I wasn’t interested in treatment systems for dairy wastewater anymore; I was interested in building Lego, painting messy pictures, going to the playground, being asked for a sippy cup every 30 minutes in the day, and sitting on the floor of a bedroom in the pitch dark waiting for the long deep breaths of a peaceful slumber to arrive.
I worked full-time up until I fell pregnant with my third lady, then there came a point where my contract in work ended, and it made more sense for me to be at home minding the girls. Thankfully for all of us, that was a move I was more than happy to make.
And so my years of calculating complicated mathematical equations were reduced to counting out the number of knives and forks needed for dinner and the number of minutes the baby napped for.
It’s repetitive; and sometimes I feel this is one we’re not allowed to admit to. Children are creatures of habit, routine suits them. However, not all adults enjoy routine, I, for one, don’t but I’ve had to accept that my preference for an off-the-cuff day just isn’t worth it when you’re awake half the night with a baby who just doesn’t know what to expect from hour to hour.
It’s busy; I feel this one I don’t need to elaborate on, kids are busy, they need food and drinks on a near constant basis, they need help with their clothes and wiping bums, they have school or playschool and activities, and did I mention they are always hungry?
It’s challenging; there are routines to be figured out, emotions to be tended to, sickness to contend with. The early years are dominated by trying to figure out what they want because they can’t speak and the older years dominated by trying to figure out what they want because they won’t speak. And while routines can be worked out and hunger abated, emotions are tricky, they take time to figure out and they run deeper. I suspect (my children are all under seven) that in years to come I will pine for the simplicity of a cuddle to mend a broken sleep when boys and friends become the issues I can’t control but need to heal.
All that said, motherhood is actually truly indescribable. I could sit here all day and write the many emotions and challenges that I go through on a hourly and daily basis. I could try and put into words the feeling that wells up inside when you see your children playing together or mastering a new milestone or just simply sitting there lost in their own little world, their innocence and vulnerability evident. Those feelings are next to impossible to describe, they are powerful, consuming and overwhelming. Motherhood is a deep inhale of a baby’s head, it’s a warm embrace in the dead of the night to chase the nightmares away, it’s a lump in your throat as you watch them find their independence, and a brimming of tears of love as you gaze at them sleeping. That is motherhood.
* Eimear Hutchinson will be writing a new Parenting and Lifestyle column in Women on Wednesday (WoW!) in The Echo every week.
You can also follow Eimear on Instagram @eimearhutchinson