What is (a mother’s) love?

The love and support following yesterday’s post was a huge relief. It was so reassuring to know I’m not the first person to resent or despise her child during the newborn phase, or really during any point in her life. The exhaustion, frustration and responsibility is enough to get to anyone; sleep deprivation is bad enough, but when combined with a bundle of need it’s made that much worse.

In my post, I mentioned feeling like a bad mother. I mean, a mother’s love is supposed to be enormous, unconditional and immediate. Moms aren’t supposed to be irritated to the point of wanting to run away, are they? But there was a lovely comment that I received yesterday, and it reframed my thinking on this. The love of a mother for her child is different from the love experienced for a partner, obviously, and it’s changing my thinking about love in general.

As described to me yesterday, a mother’s love is the fact that even though she is sleep deprived, aggravated and ready to throw her baby out the window, she continues to go back, change nappies and feed the little thing. She continues to care for the tiny bundle of screaming, crying mess, no matter how she feels. And that’s something that I continue to do. Having Harley has shown me that I’m way more patient than I ever thought I could be, that the things I thought would bother me really don’t.

So what is a mother’s love? It’s waking up at 3am to change and feed a little one even though I only got back to sleep at 1. It’s changing gross diapers from a wriggling baby and not even thinking twice about it. It’s holding a little baby until she falls asleep again, even if those extra minutes are taken from possible sleep gained for myself. It’s breast pumping, going without certain medications/food/drinks, becoming an anti-social hermit (for a while at least). It’s not the Hallmark picture perfect image of a happy mother cooing at her tiny baby, it’s the exhausted mother who continues to care for her child and herself despite the odds.

And so, despite having concerns about bonding with Harley, and despite feeling exhausted most of the time (although I think I’m getting used to getting by on less sleep), I suppose I do love the little munchkin. She might not always be my favorite princess, but she is mine and I will continue to care for her. For now, it’s like treading water, just keeping my head up and avoiding drowning while I wait for the day my feet can sort of touch solid ground again.


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