They say it ad nauseum. And by "they", I mean the books, the advice-givers in Target and the Interwebs' many forums and articles. "They" tell you about how you'll miss your nights out, how much sleep you're not going to get and how your white pants, high heels, and time-consuming hairstyle is a thing of the past. And everyone always remembers to include how your body will never be the same.
Some of that is true. (Though, seriously, why does everyone need to say these things? Talk about pudgy cheeks, snuggles, tiny onesies and Johnson&Johnson fumes in your nose! Talk about it people!) But when they told me my body would never be the same, I never expected they meant my BRAIN.
I was talking with a friend the other day about this phenom of pregnancy brain turning to mom brain and never really getting better. She nodded the nod that showed she understood and pointed out gently the gift we give our children. We willingly give everything as moms. We give them our bodies, changed forever by the weight of pregnancy and the push of labor. We give them nourishment from our own bodies when they hunger, and our sleep when that hunger comes deep in the night. We give them a piece of our hearts no one else can claim and our minds that no longer operate as quickly and sharply as they once functioned. Mothers sacrifice hair that all came in with normal layers that suddenly falls out rapidly four months after our wee one arrives, replaced by a crazy halo of uncontrollable baby hair. We give our time spent tying shoes, brushing teeth, bathing bodies, sitting by the potty, singing songs, making meals, reading books, cleaning messes, and all the small things that make up full days and years of helping tiny people grow to adults. She reminded me, this wise friend, that this isn't something stolen away from us by motherhood, it is a gift we give our children. A mother fully empties herself for something more important than self. And don't all honorable, worthy pursuits begin this way? With sacrifice? Emptying out self for a higher cause?
We look our littles square in the eye, especially in the twinkling light of Christmas, and remind them that it is far sweeter to give than to receive. Because we know it to be deeply true. For all mothers give and sacrifice and empty ourselves, is there any sweeter blessing to be given wholly over to the good of others? We know there isn't. It is the message of the Gospel. It is the upside down economy Bible. It is better to give than to receive, to understand the need in our hearts than to have storehouses of wealth, that to live we must die. The only gift that will ever really bring us joy is the one we give away.