Being A Mum Is Having Stuff Stuck In Your Hair

Photography: Katherine Heise

By Jacque Gorelick

Being a mum is the entering of uncharted territory.

Being a mum is packing a hospital bag as one version of yourself and coming home as another, tethered to a new life, now forever in your charge.

Being a mum is signing agreements and waitlists, then crossing fingers, miles, and barriers to make a family with a child, where there wasn’t one before.

Being a mum is injecting hormones, counting calendars, and pouring hope and science into a bottle and throwing it out to sea; waiting for a gift from the universe.

Being a mum is learning on the job how to swaddle, bathe, soothe, bandage, feed, and care for an ever changing being in constant need of something, from the very small to the very large. Every. Single. Minute.

Being a mum is lonely.

Being a mum is wiping. Wiping snotty noses, dirty bottoms, muddy hands, and slates clean – over and over again.

Being a mum is packing. Packing lunches, and backpacks, and sleeping bags for camp. Childhood rooms into boxes, boxes into car trunks, cards into envelopes, and books from dorm rooms to apartments, offices, and new homes.

Being a mum is holding. Holding hands, bike seats, and the “Oh sh*t!” handles of 16-year-old’s cars. Holding arms down aisles of weddings, and grand-babies in laps, and more often than you’d like: your tongue.

Being a mum is never knowing if you’re doing it right.

Being a mum is more. More love, more hugs, more laughter, more silly, more fulfillment, more pride, and more contented-quiet-moments-of-awe-and-gratitude than you expected, hoped, prepared, or bargained for.

Being a mum is less. Less time, less sleep, less exercise, less romance, less friends, less books (that aren’t filled with pictures and made of cardboard), less room in the bed, less time in the day, less interests, less hobbies. Less of you – the person you were before becoming a mother.

Being a mum is full. Full of play dough, easel paint, science projects, gymnastics, playgroups, school drop-offs and pick-ups, music lessons, soccer matches, cooking, dishes, laundry, and the mess that is life with children.

Being a mum is carrying. Carrying groceries, art projects, unfinished juice boxes, half-chewed gum, sleepy bodies from carseats to cribs, and worry, and angst, and dreams, and wonder.

Being a mum is carrying too much at once.

Being a mum is “Look Mummy!” and “Watch this!” and “Come here!” All. The. Time.

Being a mum is fueled by caffeine, lists, calendar reminders, “I did its!”, “Thank you Mummys!” and “I love yous!”

Being a mum is trade-offs, and sacrifice, and compromise, and career diversions, and life detours.

Being a mum is considering another person’s well-being and interests before your own with every decision you make.

Being a mum is being less to others so you can be more to the ones who need you most.

Being a mum is canceled plans.

Being a mum is handmade cards, and clay hearts, and macaroni necklaces, and stick figure drawings of you hand-in-hand together. It’s nose-to-nose kisses, and round, soft faces looking into your eyes and saying they love you more than ice cream and candy ― and meaning it.

Being a mum is having someone see you as a better person than you actually are.

Being a mum is being someone’s person.

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