The most terrifying part of motherhood no one ever warns you about
"I know there will be more terrifying moments in my motherhood journey as time passes by faster than I want it to. But I must learn to embrace the swift passing of time as a rite of motherhood that we all must accept..."
It’s 2am and, as through most of my motherhood journey so far, I can’t sleep. This time, it’s not because I have a tiny newborn nuzzling at my breast every two hours, demanding love and nourishment.
Neither has a pudgy toddler just woken up bright and sunshiney, commanding me to play with him.
I can’t sleep this time because I’m terrified.
What or who makes me this fearful? None other than the vision of my two sons, now 5 and 8 years old, peacefully asleep.
As I gaze at them peacefully asleep, I’m scared because their bodies are too big to fit in a snug bundle in my arms anymore.
I’m fearful because their sweet faces no longer have those squishy baby cheeks. Instead, they bear traces of the young men they will soon become.
The motherhood journey is terrifying for this reason. It gives me constant reminders of how fast time passes by. That soon, those little arms will no longer cling to me for comfort. Neither will they want me like they do now, even though I grumble about the million times a day I hear “mummy-mummy!”.
It is certainly the best teacher and reminder of mortality. The motherhood journey is defined by the too-quick passing of a day into tomorrow and yesterday. By one year, suddenly into five, and then ten.
Motherhood sees the rapid change of a fragile newborn into a robust toddler. The metamorphosis of a child into an adult.
Why did no one warn me that this hurtling of time is the most terrifying thing about the motherhood journey? Why did they not say that a year really is not that long? Who warned me about the sense of unimaginable longing when you’re spring-cleaning and stumble upon minuscule first-shoes?
So, fearful at 2am, I climb into bed with my children and take them into my arms. And then, in one moment, my anxieties melt away.
Even in deep sleep, they wrap their arms around me and cuddle up to me. My older son sleepily opens his eyes and whispers, “I love you”, before falling asleep again. My younger son smiles and giggles sweetly in his sleep.
Yes, motherhood is terrifying and tiring and challenging. But it’s also joyful and enriching and inspiring. It teaches life-lessons the best university in the world cannot teach. Learning how to balance the fear and joys of life is one of these lessons.
Understanding that each minute with your loved one is a privilege and not something to be taken for granted is something only motherhood can teach.
You learn lessons about time that quantum physicists are still grappling with – that it cannot be turned back, and that it passes faster than you ever imagined.
For now, I am calm again as I feel the warm little bodies of my children trustingly cuddle up to me. Their steady heartbeats slow mine down.
I know there will be more terrifying moments in my motherhood journey as time passes by faster than I want it to. But I must learn to embrace the swift passing of time as a rite of motherhood that we all must accept.