What does it feel like?
I was recently walking on campus when I was asked about motherhood by a 20-something graduate student. He and I were headed to our gender class when he suddenly became curious about my role as a mother. Being single and what he considers years away from parenthood he was curious to know what what it felt like.
What does what feel like? I asked.
Being a mom? What does it feel like to have something you created living and moving around outside your body?
I took a deep breath and realized in that moment that no one had ever really asked me to vocalize what it is I feel for my children.
I almost didn't know what to say.
Being a mother is the most intense experience I've ever had and will probably ever experience. It's hard and tiring, full of a range of emotions every second of every day. It's fun and scary and full of love and worry. It's dirty and messy and nowhere near what I expected.
I didn't want to scare him with my response and I wasn't sure those kind of details were exactly what he was looking for. I sensed he was looking for something more emotion, more spiritual than anything related to diapers, lack of sleep, or the fun of peek-a-boo games.
I took another deep breath and said the first thing that came to mind.
It's like having your heart outside your body every moment of every single day.
He looked right at me. Smiled. And said 'that's what I thought!'
We walked the rest of the way to our class in silence - him justified in his question and me grateful for my ability to even answer it.
ChristinaY is a freelance writer and mother of three. In between loads of laundry and tantrums she is working on her PhD. She blogs about her adventures and misadventures at hooey!critic.