Motherhood is the most intense experience that a woman can have – in my opinion.
Yesterday evening I went to see the musical “Mamma Mia” (in Lisbon for two weeks). It was my second time (I saw it in London last year) and I’ve seen the movie several times. Amidst all the music and joy there is a poignant scene where Donna, the mother, sings a song where she remembers her daughter when she was a small child going to school, and how she feels her daughter is “slipping through my fingers” now that she is 20 and getting married…
That moment in the play always brings to my mind all the incredibly complex feelings and emotions that are part of the amazing adventure we embark upon when we have a child.
In fact, in my case, the adventure began before – the intensity of the feeling, the strange sensation of loving someone as much or even more than you love yourself began when my sons were still inside me and went on growing from then on…and forevermore.
I remember the feeling of utter happiness I felt when I first learned I was pregnant; the strange at first but then precious sensation the first time I felt my baby move inside my womb; the feeling of complete despair as I saw the blood pouring out of me and thought I had lost my second baby – as I cried disconsolately in the hospital room, I couldn’t even hear the doctor telling me “please calm down, relax, your baby is fine” – as she did the scan and saw that my tiny baby ( I was six weeks pregnant) had cleverly positioned himself in the corner of my uterus that was on the opposite side of the bleeding!…then the unimaginable and indescribable feeling of joy the moment they were born (and of physical relief too, finally the end of pain, one must admit!) and were put on my chest and I kissed their dirty little heads for the first time…then the first month without sleep, the magical mother-son moments of breastfeeding, holding them in my arms, softly singing a lullaby, the first adoring looks at Mummy, playing with them, reading them bedtime stories – all of my favourite fairy stories – when they were but a few months old, their first crawling and the first steps, their first words, the first days of school, the first school friends, the protective attitude of my elder son towards his baby brother – I remember the day Afonso was trying to teach his brother to speak with difficult words such as Hippopotamus and Rhinoceros…my two little boys so tender towards their Mummy, always holding my hand tight in the street; my youngest boy Pedro creeping into my bed and snuggling against me.
Then the complicated teens, arguments, less than average results at school, coming home late, giving me some frights as when Afonso called me at 5 am “Mummy, please don’t worry, but I’m in an ambulance going to hospital, I’ve been hit by a stone as I was coming out of the disco” – to this day he has a small scar on his forehead. And I could go on, and on and on. So many stories, so many moments shared, but most of all that feeling of unconditional love, as I know that, whatever happens, I will love them forever. As simple as that.
Because for me, there is only one such love in life and that is a mother’s love for her children. A love that will remain forever and in any circumstance (I suppose a father’s love is the same, but I cannot vouch for that…).
But this love is also strangely “paradoxical”: when they are small, we are anxious to see them grow up, so that they may be more independent and not need us so much. But when they grow up and become taller than us and don’t need us so much anymore we sorely miss those little hands trying to find ours, and the hugs and the cuddling that now have become somewhat scarce…
In spite of all the bitter-sweet moments, of all the anguish (sometimes), of all the arguments and discussions or even of what we always fear may happen to them (I usually say that a mother will never again know a day when she has one hundred per cent peace of mind), had I not become a mother I would have missed the most beautiful and intense, the strongest of all the feelings I have experienced in my life. And I can say I have experienced a few.
I’m thankful, so thankful that I have been able to live through the incredible experience of motherhood and I know this feeling of complete love will be with me forever, to the end of my days. It has no equal, and it is pretty indescribable.
But then, out there, I know most mothers in the whole world know exactly what I mean – absolutely no need to describe it.