I think the relationship between mother and child is much like any other long term relationship. They all go through certain phases. The first phase is the honeymoon. All you want to do is stare into each other’s eyes and spend every waking moment together. You put your best foot forward and try and do everything just right. You can do no wrong in their eyes, and vice versa. In motherhood, this honeymoon period is intensified by the huge relief and gratitude you feel toward this little person for finally coming out! To put it simply, you’re on cloud nine and nothing can burst your bubble.
And then, somewhere along the way, the honeymoon ends. In romantic relationships, this is usually the point where you start farting in front of each other (this doesn’t apply to a mother-child relationship, as you will invariably feel that your baby’s farts are the cutest thing ever from day one. Don’t worry, we all do it). In the mother-child relationship, the honeymoon tends to end around month 3, when you realize that this little creature you’ve created really isn’t going to sleep through the night for a very long time. Once the honeymoon ends, you’ve got to come to terms with the idea that neither of you are perfect. This is when you’ll be forced to accept that you are not the perfect parent and most likely never will be. At the same time, you have to admit that your baby doesn’t always look like the Gerber baby and sometimes screeches at a pitch only dogs can hear. The end of the honeymoon in any relationship is tough. Reality sneaks up behind you and gives you a nice hard knock on the head. However, I urge you not to fight it, but rather see it as the natural progression of your relationship. The sooner you accept these things, the sooner you get to move on to the next phase.
The final phase is the settling in. You’ve acknowledged that neither is perfect and made peace with each other’s faults. Your interactions become fluid, natural and uninhibited. You anticipate and meet each other’s needs. You no longer need to question how important you are to the other person — you are completely secure in the knowledge that you are unconditionally loved and wanted. You can’t even begin to fathom your life without this person and can’t imagine what you did before they arrived. You know in that deep, primal part of you that you would kill for and die for them. Life can throw you curveball after curveball, but you’ve got a rock, and you are happy.
Clara and I have reached the settling in phase, and I am absolutely loving it. Its not easy to say good-bye to the honeymoon or let go of hopes of being the perfect parent, but its all worth it. So very worth it.