How can I possibly sum up the response to my baby's first word? How can I do adequate justice to the completely embodied experience of the things I felt when my baby said "mama" for the first time? The truth is, try as I might, I can't. Still, I'm going to try, because that moment in time will forever remain one of the most significant moments I have experienced.
I conceptualize motherhood — and the intense, otherworldly love that goes with it — as a mystery of emotion. It seems if I were to look directly at my reactions-of-mom-ness, I might turn to stone, as though I'm looking into Medusa's eyes. Or perhaps, like Icarus, I would fly too high into the bright-sun-like mom love. The beauty and heat of said love would overwhelm my senses and send me plummeting to the earth. In other words, reactions to milestone events, like when my youngest said "mama" for the first time a few months ago, are all-encompassing moments. My thoughts race, I feel literally all the extreme emotions, and my body is overcome with sensation.
My whole life people have been fond of telling me I'm "over-dramatic." For numerous years I've tried to tamp my experience down so others would be less put-out by my extremeness. But you know what I found, dear reader? Maybe I'm dramatic because I feel things with my whole being. Tamping it down is bullsh*t. I had all these big feelings that followed when my kid said "mama" because, well, they are meant to be experienced! When my youngest said their first word, "mama," all of the following things simultaneously were felt:
I honestly had to stop and ask if my baby said what I thought they just said. You want to hear that word for so long, that when you finally do it's hard to believe.
That question, of course, was followed by a good minute, at least, of my partner and I fawning over our baby and trying to get them to say it again.
This inner warmth of what felt like a thousand suns started in my heart, then exploded outwards to fill my body from the tips of my toes to top of my head. That warmth and light shined out of my skin and I swear I was sharing it with the world.
Yeah, yeah, it's a little petty. However, I can't help the leap of joy my heart did thinking I was my baby's favorite human!
Because this was, in fact, the last first "mama" I would ever hear. There's something terribly, beautifully sad about that.
There is something about my babies growing up that puts me face to face with my mortality in a way that no other life event or experience ever has.
Yes, it's an iron of fear through my chest. It's alternately boiling hot and freezing cold. Will I see my baby grow up? Will I be able to protect them from all the pain in this world? Will I be able to be the mom they need?
I honestly sat and asked myself if I did, in fat, do the right thing. Was it smart to bring another human being into this very messed up world? Did I, in loving my baby so truly, actually hurt them by introducing them to this mess?
It's almost suffocating. Will I be able to spend enough time with my baby, and in a way my baby deserves?
That's such a guilt-ridden question, especially since I know spending enough time with them is impossible. Failing the impossible task of spending enough time, will my baby know they're loved beyond belief anyway?
It's an unrealistic request, but I want and hope my baby is always as happy as the moment they said "mama" for the very first time. I mean, I know there will be upsets in their life, just like anyone's. I know there will be the temper tantrums of toddlerhood and the broken hearts of high school. However, I hope that through it all my littlest little maintains that sweetly and uniquely positive, joyful spirit they seem to have already. I know that this happiness is rare, but so full of resilience.
And not just any love, but that incredibly unique "mom love" that is so damn difficult to explain. Us moms all have an indescribable, uniquely mom love that creates itself with each of our children's births. If felt fully it can easily bring us to tears. It surrounds our bodies and integrates into each of our cells. It is warm and full. When my baby said "mama" for the first time, the mom love that is uniquely theirs exploded with the strength and heat of billions of tiny supernovas.