An Ode to All the Mamas by Lauren Hill
Photos by Chrystal Dawn and Anrielle
In a million tiny ways, at least, mamas are absolute sheros. They triumph over the unthinkably mundane and undeniably gross every single day. That’s not to mention weathering the literal torture technique of extended sleep deprivation – and still mustering love and affection for our tiny babies, even through bloodshot-tired eyes and brain fog as thick as the marine layer.
While I was pregnant, I held up this romantic notion of the day I’d be breastfeeding my little boy and he’d reach up, gazing into my eyes, and gently stroke my face. A moment of unparalleled intimacy and connection, I imagined.
|When the moment finally began to materialize when he was three or four months old, the world stood still as our eyes locked, and his beyond soft, fat little palm found the top of my cheek near my hairline. Still just barely in control of his extremities, he clumsily slid that pillowy palm down toward my nose. But then some reflex in him took over, he slipped one finger into my nose, one into the corner of my eye, and then fiercely gripped both until I pried his little razor blade fingernails out of my mucus membranes. If anyone else treated my body this way, I would assuredly want to be violent back toward them. But this is motherhood, so I will detract his claws, grit my teeth, curse under my breath and keep feeding him.|
The physical challenges of motherhood – back pain, neck pain, nipple pain, pelvic pain – might have been wholly encompassing pre-child. But now, armed with oxytocin and millions’ of years worth of evolutionary drive, somehow we trade tending to our aching bodies or chronic tiredness for our beloved little one. What we once considered ‘needs’ suddenly become mere ‘wants.’ It is at once a magical blessing and a deeply bewildering state. I could not begin to appreciate the vastness of parental resilience pre-child; the relentlessness of love, the reservoir of patience one must continuously dig and empty.
|I spent about 7 months out of the water, due to a complicated pregnancy that meant months of bed rest during pregnancy and then two months of healing after an emergency Caesarean rescued us both. What got me through those very long months was a combination of deep breathing, sunshine, meditation, trashy American TV and a fresh, glossy California Square Tail hanging on my board rack – the perfect companion for East Coast Australia’s perfect sandy points.|
Surfing has definitely changed for me – the windows are more precise – limited to about two hours that overlap naptime and feeds. But we made a commitment as a family to try and make time for each of us to get into the ocean every day.
So when I do surf, there’s much less dawdling than before. I wouldn’t actually say that I’m surfing less now, just that my surfing is more condensed. I catch way more waves in a surf now than I use to. And I’ve never been more grateful to have this silly, superfluous, yet sacred wave-sliding thing to totally escape from the endless cycles of mothering. To have the opportunity to just be in my own body and play again.
|More than anything else, motherhood has left me in awe of the fact that each one of us are only here, still living, because a woman loved us enough to keep us alive. First in her own body, then through those most vulnerable early months of complete helplessness -- and beyond, when taxes are due and mom explains that you can still file for an extension, for example (thanks Mom!).|
It is a gift to be alive, the kind of gift that only a mother can give.