A while ago I posted a plea for help winning an essay contest. I did not win (sadness), but I did say I’d post the essay after a winner was determined. Here it is.
When you get pregnant and have a child, there is a world of information out there about everything that happens to your body. It seemed to me that every doctor, midwife, doula, researcher and expert had toiled for centuries in an attempt to compile every possibility, every symptom, and every side effect that could and would inflict a woman during pregnancy, child birth and beyond.
I read about how my feet would swell, my skin would stretch, and my hair would grow faster and thicker. I read that my taste buds would change and my digestive tract would slow down. I was warned that I might get sick, my teeth might get brittle, and my perineum might stretch and tear. I was told that I would gain weight, lose weight, and be transformed physically. I was informed of more changes to come than I ever thought possible, but no where, not once, was I ever informed about what happens to your eyes.
Not one single book had any mention of how the world will appear bigger, bolder and brighter after your child has come into it. No one told me how outrageously vivid every color, how sharp and dramatic every shape, and how captivatingly intricate every detail would appear to be.
No one told me how what was once timid and harmless would now appear fierce and dangerous. I had no warning that what was once mundane would now be aggravating, what once was bland and sterile would now be over stimulating, and what was once dismissible would now be impossible to ignore. Conversely, what once was aggravating would now appear mundane, what once was boring would now be fascinating, and what I once would have overlooked would now be impossible to dismiss.
Nothing that I read told me how what once appeared to be small would now appear to be vast playgrounds ripe for exploration, or fraught with danger. Nothing that I read told me that what once was gross would now be cute and funny.
So much about how my eyes functioned changed when I became a mother! So much about how they processed information was altered! The change seems so obvious and extreme to me, I do not understand how everyone could have missed it, but it was sorely overlooked in every text that I read.
Nothing touched on how every child I saw from that point on would seem more unique, more independent, more precious, more fragile.
Nothing warned me that every time I saw pain I would flinch and my stomach would roil, as if it were happening to me.
No one mentioned that every injustice I witnessed would cut me to my deepest sinews, as if it were happening to me.
No one prepared me for how personal, how dire, how gravely important every moment in the world would appear to be, or how desperately I would seek to cherish or improve upon it as a result.
No one told me that I would be catching glimpses through my child’s eyes, through every child’s eyes, through every mother’s eyes, and through my own eyes as they were when I was a child.
What great empathy, great sympathy, great youthful caring and admiration have been bestowed upon my eyes since I was honored to receive that promotion into motherhood. What great strength has been revealed in me to act upon my new vision of the world. What great good I feel empowered to do thanks to the change that took place to my eyes when I became a mommy.
No one told me this would happen to my eyes as I began my journey into motherhood, but this is one symptom that cannot fade, like stretch marks, nor resolve it’s self, like morning sickness. It is an awakening that will stay with me my whole life.