I think I finally get it. This, what I feel now, is what being a mummy is supposed to feel like. I had wondered if I would immediately fall in love with my child; I thought I would be certain that he was “the one.” But I didn’t. After two years of waiting, a long assessment, a possible match that wasn’t to be, and six months of waiting for a court decision about this child, when I finally met him I was…. Well, let’s face it: I was tired.
I got involved with getting to know him and his routine, and quickly realized that the immense love that would overflow my heart would not come straightaway, that we would have to take things slowly. And so we did.
I began with the idea that parenthood is about finding yourself in someone else. Part of the love we feel for our children is due to the fact that they reflect who we are. Narcissism in its most beautiful form. Loving a child who was not born to you, on the other hand, requires embracing another being, not because he is similar to you or to someone you love, but because he is human and, consequently, beautiful and full of potential.
I can only compare the process to dating someone. You fall in love slowly, with every smile, every new aspect of his personality, every laugh and every nappy (not your boyfriend’s, one should hope!), every good day and every not-so-good day. Every word, every tear (yours and his) and every bad dream. That is how it happened to me, because of a bad dream.
My gorgeous and clever little boy had been with us for around 10 weeks. I was in love with him. But I wasn’t quite sure that I loved him.
He had been suffering from night terrors. During these episodes he was distressed and scared, and my husband and I felt powerless.
One night, I heard my son crying. It was not, in any way, a special night. He was crying as usual, at his usual time. I left my bed feeling tired and, hard as it is to admit, slightly frustrated. I put on my glasses and, with half-closed eyes, went to his bedroom. As usual, I stroked his hair and whispered lovely nothings, sweet words from a person who could only hope that, one day, I would feel that he was mine.
This is when it happened. My little boy opened his eyes for a few seconds and, as I held him close, I could feel his arms around me, tightly holding on. I could have cried right there and then, but what he did next was even more moving–he started smelling me. My face, my hair, my neck. I could see a faint smile behind his long, messy curls, stuck to his face because of his tears. For the first time, my son could inhale his mummy, and he felt safe. And he exhaled some of the sorrow and loneliness that woke him up every night. I said, “I love you, bumblebee.” And I meant it. Forever. This is what being a mummy is supposed to feel like, I thought. And all I could do was thank my little man for teaching me this lesson and for transforming a bad dream into a breath of certainty and calm.
S.D. and her husband have lived in the U.K. for over 10 years, and are originally from South America. Their four-year-old boy is bilingual and very eager to become a big brother soon.
PHOTO: S.D. and her son (4, U.K.) share a mummy-son kiss.