“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
Love at First Sight?
The Oxford Dictionary defines love as “A strong feeling of affection”. As easy as it seems at face value to relate to this word I have a question to pose. As parents and in this context mothers specifically, is it a given that the moment your baby enters the world you automatically fall head over heels in love with them?
The Harsh Realities of ‘Reality’
The birth of my son heralded nothing near the pomp and fanfare I had envisioned from years of watching endless soap operas, reading Mills and Boons and those girly Hollywood blockbusters, or that “moment” as Mike in the animation Monsters Incsaid, ‘I lay eye on you’. What a farce! I think it’s fairer and more realistic to say in that moment the first thoughts are ‘Oh my word-I have just had a baby and that whole being just came out of me!Who does it look like? Am I getting stitches? I have the shakes, I hope it wasn’t too messy, did someone take pics? What a relief…” A whole list of overlapping and erratic emotions, thoughts and feelings that cloud your mind. It is too overwhelming an event to even describe.
A Whole World Turned Upside Down
Over the next weeks I was underwhelmed and hit with pangs of guilt over the feelings I thought I was supposed to feel as prescribed by society. From the hospital I went to my mother’s house for the recommended 6 weeks of rest, relaxation, and bonding with my son. That deep sense of trauma followed me home and its only as you read up and re-evaluate the physical experience of childbirth that you understand the gravity of how it’s not just about giving birth but a physiologically life changing event as well. As the days turned into weeks and I slept a little less, paranoid over leaving him even to relive myself in the bathroom, I went through a phase of unintentional resentment. I resented him for everything I felt he was putting me through, for not understanding his muted silence and shrill cries which left me helpless because it seemed we just could not communicate; for keepingme up at night feeding him, for my overall feelings of exhaustion and a deep sense of loneliness.
And then – Love Happened
A good friend ofminewho had given birth to her son two monthsearlier paid mea surprise visit and it was a turning point in my life. After hours of talking,crying and sharingIsuddenly realised that everything I was going through was normal.Post-natal sadness was an OK emotion to experience and after her visit I decided to look at my new role with new eyes and do so with the knowledge that each month would bring new challenges but it was all part of the process. At this stage I started to feel a warmness that is hard to describe when I looked at, spoke of and thought of my son.
Discovering the True Essence of Love
Aslife would have it, when my son was 9 months old I discovered I was pregnant with my second son.Needless to say the shock alone nearly sent me to the psychiatric ward.Just as I was getting toappreciate my son I realisedthere would now be two of them. I had to then make a conscious decision to give my son the best of who I was so he could experience my love with no reservation and at the same time teach him to love his sibling. Through my son, I learned the true essence of what love is and what it’s supposed to be. It was as if he just knew that mum was pregnant and that he had a role to play. Wewatched in awe as he developed a relationship with his brother whom he subsequently called “Dada” because he couldn’t say the word brother and to this day that his how his sibling is affectionallyknown.We watched the progression of this relationship with his brother whom he couldn’t see, didn’t know, andwas waiting on expectantly but with patience,kindness, and love. He would literally talk (babylanguage) to my belly, sleep with his hand on it, help me off the bed as I got bigger, rub my face and just shower me with his undivided attention.
Loving through it All
My son fell sick around that time and was admitted into hospital and I remember experiencing those sporadic moments of realisation that I was actually a mother (I know any of you go through those moment where an event, or words spoken trigger that ‘wow I am really a mom’feeling)In that surreal moment where I was asked to sign forms and make life changing decisions over his life I knew that I was the guardian of this little being and my purpose was to love him selflessly to the point of wishing his pain were mine and with willingness sacrifice everything to make that happen. This wave of anxiety, joy, uncertainty, and intensity never leaves you as your child grows and you go through the motions with them. Each day presents itself with new challenges, good and bad and one does not determine how much more you love them. If I refer to scripture, we understand the deepness of what Love really is, and through our children and their blind unwavering and unconditional love towards us we discover that in its truest sense.
By Kiri Gumunyu