The day I married my husband our vows to one another were spoken aloud. One hundred and fifty people heard me promise, “I do” to my husband. We promised till death would we remain together. In sickness or in health he would be my number one. For richer or poorer he would stand by my side. And like that, I became a wife in front of a crowd of people and God.
On the day my son was born unspoken vows were made. Even before his entry I had vowed to help his arrival be as smooth and healthy as possibly. Immediately following his birth, I knew that my son needed the warmth of my skin, milk to nourish him and an unending amount of love. There was never a paper to sign giving me permission to birth him. No rules were written out that I would feed him, swaddle him, rock him and love him. Yet in that moment, whether it be consciously or unconsciously, I vowed to protect that tiny human being with all the intensity and fierceness I possessed as his mother.
When my husband and I were married, we had a lovely week following our vows in the Caribbean. It contained perfection. I had a drink in my hand, the sun on my back and the man of my dreams beside me sleeping for ten hours a night.
But we all know that is not how the first week of motherhood goes. I had baggy clothes, mesh underwear, and a baby who wanted to eat all day long. I was lucky when I got four hours of uninterrupted sleep and grateful when someone else would take the baby in the morning for an hour so I could sleep that much longer. I woke up to crying instead of the sound of the ocean and my cocktail was in actuality soggy cereal.
Those unspoken vows of protection, comfort and health began to be put to the test right away. My entire self being was dedicated to this child’s needs, and no matter how difficult it was, I was in it for the long run. I love this child more than life itself. Those vows tied me to him and him to me.
I know our relationship will change as he grows older and more independent. In fact, for the first time this week, he ignored my hand (check, he looked at it and continue walking) as I tried to hold it and walk alongside him. I watched that waddling toddler go ahead of me and beamed with pride at what he could do without me. I know I’ll beam with pride when he takes his first job or enrolls in college. I might shed a tear or three hundred, though.
Motherhood is bittersweet. We vow to raise them into tiny adults who will make tremendous decisions from the minds we helped mold. We vow to teach them the rights and wrongs and blacks and whites and often times, those gray areas we don’t want to touch with a ten foot stick. We vow to be our best but allow them to see our weaknesses also. We vow a listening ear and arms to hold. We vow everything from the moment those lines turn pink on the bathroom sink. We vow them motherhood forever.