There are things I'll never understand about fatherhood, and I'll be the first to admit it. However, there are approximately a million things I often think my partner can't understand about motherhood, either. I've tried to explain a few times, but it seems as though there's an undeniable divide between motherhood and fatherhood that's beyond explanation. So, yes, there are things my partner can't understand about motherhood, but that doesn't mean I'm somehow intrinsically more equipped to handle parenthood than he is. It just means that some experiences, however shared, are also different.
I dreamt of meeting my daughter for nine months before she joined our family. From the day we decided to move 4,000 miles away to pursue adoption, every night when I closed my eyes to go to sleep I would picture what it would be like to walk into the hospital and be handed my daughter. In some bizarre twist of fate (or faith, quite possibly), it happened almost exactly how I pictured.
What I couldn't picture and never anticipated, though, was how I was instantly changed in that moment. I walked into that hospital as Emily and I walked out as Maya's mom. My priorities and my heart changed so quickly and monumentally that it really took me by surprise. I thought I'd have to get used to the idea that I had a daughter or that I was a mom. I thought I might have to get used to her, since I didn't grow her in my own womb. I didn't. Motherhood hit me instantly and, as a result, I'm pretty sure my husband still doesn't understand what that's like.
That I Can't Shut It Off
My "mom brain" almost never turns off. In the first few weeks of being a mom, I'd have moments when I would think about something other than my daughter, but those moments were (and still are) few and far between. While I enjoy being my own self sometimes, I'm still constantly glad that I love being her mom so much that I wouldn't even really want to turn it off.
That My Baby's Crying Hurts My Soul
I think our daughter's crying hurts my partner's ears, but they hurt my actual soul. Now, I don't mean this in a negative way. In fact, sometimes I'm quite envious of my partner's ability to sleep through my daughter's cries or tune it out.
That I Love Her Differently Than I Love Him
Being a mom, to me, means I love my daughter differently than I love my partner. I love them both wildly, but it's sort of the difference between being in control and being totally out of control. I love my husband in a controlled way that I can manage in my heart. I love my daughter in a way that sometimes makes me feel utterly out of control of my emotions.
That Motherhood Was Instant
Motherhood was instant for me. I know my partner loved my daughter instantly, too, but I think he became a father over the course of a few weeks. I think his head adjusted, then his heart followed. I think motherhood hit me, brain and heart, all at once the instant I laid eyes on her.
That My Mama Bear Instinct Is Real
I often think about the first time we drove away from the NICU and left our brand new daughter behind. We'd learned 12 hours before that we were going to become parents, and we were in shock. That shock, honestly, is the only explanation I have now for how we were able to leave her at all. Still, driving away from her, my daughter whom I'd only met three hours before, felt like I was leaving a limb in the hospital.
That It Comes With Constant Worry
It's not such a panicked worry now that my daughter is a little older, but it's a constant mindset of wondering about her and how she's doing and whether we're doing the right things to help her grow.
That It's Not Always Rational
Nine years of marriage and I'm pretty sure my husband still hasn't realized that a lot of my worries and meltdowns aren't rational. Same goes for some of my motherhood worries; any amount of rational explanation isn't necessarily going to help me relax about leaving my daughter with a stranger or whatever her latest mystery fever may or may not mean.