Recently I paused for a moment of reflection, and I realized that there seem to be fewer and fewer moments for reflection these days. So I reflected on this lack of time for reflection and discovered that something bewildering has happened. “Metamorphosis” is what kept coming to mind. I looked it up on answers.com and realized that indeed, Metamorphosis is what has happened.
Metamorphosis 1: a transformation, as by magic or sorcery
I don’t believe in sorcery so to speak, or magic in the literal sense. But it would be fitting to say that it has been a “magical transformation.” Nothing else could quite capture the depth of the change or the degree to which the changes literally permeate every corner of my life. Somewhere between the moment of conception with Dear Daughter and my present state of existence, this kind of transformation began and it hasn’t stopped.
Initial reflection on the lack of time for reflection led me to recall that long ago, at a time I can only now faintly remember, Dear Hubby and I used to have more time, and we used to spend our time much differently. Upon returning home from work on Friday evenings, Dear Hubby and I used to ask each other, “So what do you want to do tonight?” It was pretty much an open question and an open invitation to choose to do anything we wanted, including going out to eat in a restaurant that doesn’t serve crayons as an appetizer and provide paper table cloths to draw on, going to a late movie, having a few glasses of wine, and even having time and energy for “the unmentionable.” Heck sometimes we would do all of those things in a single evening. But that was long ago, at a time I can only now faintly remember.
I think the Friday night question was asked a couple times right after Dear Daughter was born, and it hasn’t been asked since, because we both know what we are going to do on Friday evenings now. Friday nights are like any other night (a whole topic in itself that there’s not room to address here), with the exception that we go to bed sometimes at 11:00 pm rather than 9:30 pm in anticipation of sleeping in until, oh say, 6:00 am. And if I do manage to sleep in until 6:00am and haven’t heard anything from Dear Son, I awaken with a start wondering what’s wrong and find myself getting out of bed and tiptoeing in the silence to the side of my wee one's crib to scrutinize his profile, looking for the subtle rising and falling of his chest. Being satisfied that he is still respirating, I wonder to myself when I will stop worrying that my kids have mysteriously stopped breathing. Then I recall the response of a friend (whose kids are teenagers) who laughed knowingly at my confession and said, "Oh, probably when they are about 13!" By this time I'm wide awake thinking "Oh my gosh! I'm going to be doing this for thirteen years!" which is then followed by the even scarier thought, "Oh my gosh! My kids are going to grow into teenagers!" If Dear Son still has not awakened to be fed following my trip to check his respirations, I will go back to bed and lie awake, wondering whether to wake him up to nurse, go downstairs and seek relief from the “milking machine,” or simply ponder the odds of my breasts exploding before I choose to do one of the previously considered options.
Metamorphosis 2: a marked change in appearance, character, condition, or function
Indeed, my appearance has metamorphosized multiple times since becoming pregnant with Dear Daughter, growing to the size of Bertha the Beluga Whale, giving birth, and ultimately FINALLY returning to my pre-pregnancy weight and size only to discover a week later that I was pregnant with Dear Son. Then I grew to the size of Bertha-the-even-Bigger Beluga Whale, gave birth again, and am still working on the returning to pre-pregnancy size thing. As for character, condition, and function, well that can also describe the appearance and purpose of my physical body. I’ll spare any great detail this time and suffice it to say that until I had children, I didn’t fully realize the kind of “functionality” my body would morph into managing. In addition to my physical being, there is no other aspect of my existence that has gone unscathed by a morphing of character, condition, and function either. Definition 3 also helps explain this:
Metamorphosis 3: A change in the form and often habits of an animal during normal development after the embryonic stage.
Following the “embryonic stages” of my babies, I now find myself a part-time working mother of two. Spare time is a rare treat. Money is first spent on baby gear, baby clothes that are outgrown in record time, and car seats (that are also sometimes outgrown in record time). A weekend outing is nothing like it looked BZ2 (before the two “Baby Z’s”) and consists of choosing to do things a toddler would enjoy as well as being as infant-friendly as possible, hence the rare experience of going out to dinner no longer means going somewhere with linen napkins and glasses of wine, but somewhere you can order chicken fingers and color on the table.
Metamorphosis 4: Pathology. A usually degenerative change in the structure of a particular body tissue.
Pathology, indeed. I think I already described the changes of particular body tissues. I could go to much more particular tissues and graphic details, but I won’t. If you are a mom, you already know what I mean. If you aren’t, be thankful that you can’t relate.
And so, I will say what many seem to feel is taboo to admit: There is a “dark side” to motherhood. As I stated in a post long ago, any mom who denies this is either lying or delusional. You see, there are times I grow weary of my almost-three-year-old's whining and nagging. And I sometimes feel completely irritated with my 5-month-old who has prevented me from getting a full night of sleep for the past year, long before he ever poked his head out of my womb. And furthermore, I really miss peeing with the door shut, and I can't remember when I last had two solid hours to myself to do ANYTHING!
But here’s the kicker. Here’s the part where (If I didn’t already believe in the supernatural influence of the Holy and the Divine) I could almost justify the role of magic and sorcery in this whole metamorphosis experience: If someone asked me if I would prefer to return to the “pre-metamorphed” existence—a life without my wee ones, complete with time and freedom to visit those fancy restaurants and money to spend on frivolous and expensive and not-at-all-kid-friendly belongings, a life where I could be guaranteed not to be awakened in the night by hungry infants or toddlers afraid of spiders being in her bed, a life in which I wasn’t plagued by fleshy post-pregnancy wiggles and rolls, I would say “Absolutely not!” It’s crazy, I know. I can’t explain it, and it makes no logical sense. There’s just something about an almost-three-year-old who says to me, “Mommy, you are my best friend!” and a 5-month-old who looks into my soul with infant adoration for me, as if he is telling me I am his entire world and existence--his sun, moon, and stars (I am, after all).
Motherhood truly is a pathological (deviation from a “normal”) condition. It’s a Metamorphosis--a magical transformation of all that was previously familiar. It’s an experience that wacks out your brain cells leaving you to think that in spite of all that makes logical sense, motherhood is the greatest thing you've got going in your life.