Never have I felt so alive as I have since becoming a parent.
What is it about motherhood that makes us feel equal parts deflated, sleep-deprived and haggard and yet somehow compels us to rise up every day, put one foot in front of the other, and greet these tiny beings with the same overwhelming feelings of love that we had the moment we met them for the first time? It's amazing, and yet it's no wonder, that a job so exhausting and fulfilling has the ability to stretch us in every which direction, and at the same time manages to leave us feeling as though we're overflowing with a love so strong it nearly knocks us over.
With childbirth, it's like the pain and struggle is proportionate to the subsequent joy, love and elation. With parenting, though, it's as though the pain and the joy battle to the death and each one simultaneously overrides the other until you're sure you can't handle another ounce of either and yet every fiber of your being cries out for more.
To me, being someone's mother seems akin to living without skin on. Like there's no protective layer - and everything feels electric and buzzing. Every feeling somehow bombards my senses and hits me square in the chest - but to the power of ten. Or a thousand, maybe.
Before I became a mother, there were days, weeks and entire months of my life that passed by in which I couldn't be bothered to feel much of anything at all; and yet somehow where I once waded through my days, I'm now scrounging to make it through excruciating minutes and hours - or I'm overtaken by such an intense level of joy I hardly know how I existed through all that time leading up to the moment in which I became a mother.
I'm not insinuating that if you don't have children you haven't lived, or that if you do, your life is somehow more fulfilling - I'm only saying that for me, my life - my me - began after giving birth. Although my identity does not remotely revolve around my daughter, nor does it revolve around motherhood, motherhood itself opened me up and shook awake the parts of me that were asleep for years, passed out and splayed on the floor. There exists meaning where none was before; I find purpose where before I had none; and I've somehow become a deeper, stronger more empowered version of myself.
The demands that motherhood places on us are staggering. Even on the best days, it's hard not to look at the bigger picture and wonder how we're going to make it through every trial, every struggle, every lesson and every period of hardship; especially when we find ourselves on the cusp of a[nother] emotional or mental breakdown.
But the magical, mysterious element to parenthood is how quickly and seamlessly our worries can be erased. It's cliche, I know. I just can't seem to spin the idea in any other way than to say that a kiss from my girl, or hearing her laugh, or feeling her blow a drooly, giggly raspberry into the crook of my neck is enough to erase every terrified and overwhelmed feeling I've ever felt. Without question, without reservation, without hesitation - her love for me swallows me whole and holds me tightly in the palm of her tiny little hand.
I am bowled over, I am scooped up and I am cradled by feelings equally paralyzing as they are comforting, compelling and captivating. And with great certainty, I know I am blessed beyond measure.