During one of my recent website design projects, I ran across a poem written by an unknown author that challenged my thoughts on my upcoming motherhood, and quite frankly, irritated me to all Hell. The poem began:
“There are women that become mothers without effort, without thought, without patience
or loss and though they are good mothers and love their children,
I know that I will be better.
Like most things in life, the people who truly have appreciation are those who have struggled to attain their dreams.
I will notice everything about my child.
I will take time to watch my child sleep, explore and discover. I will marvel at this miracle every day for the rest of my life.”
As opposed to the rest of the mothers who don’t???
As the weeks of my pregnancy continue to pass, I still come back to the poem’s first line and its passive aggressive accusation of “mothers without effort.”
So far I have been a “mother without effort, without thought, without patience or (God forbid) loss,” and I took the line as an attack on my good fortune. But put off as I may be by the poet’s exclamation of her perfect mothering ability, I do understand that triumph tastes sweeter after a struggle, and while I won’t concede her point, my mind has developed a metaphor to explain my newly compromised perspective.
When trying to explain things—like any other pregnant woman—my hormonally off-balance and perpetually hungry brain (yes, even my brain is STARVING) automatically gravitates towards food metaphors—ice cream in particular.
The way I see it, the poem’s author and I—along with a bunch of other women—are all sitting together ready to enjoy an ice cream social. It’s mid-July and the temperatures are soaring. We’re waiting on the hostess, fanning our empty plastic bowls in front of our faces, trying to generate some air to cool ourselves. Finally, the hostess arrives and starts serving up the ice cream. She’s blindly dropping scoops into bowl after bowl, regardless if you ask for any or not. (In her defense, she probably assumed that since you were there participating in the event, you were after some damn ice cream).
Even though the cold, summer treat looked tempting to me, I wasn’t quite ready for a bowl. I wanted to wait a few more minutes before I dove in. Didn’t matter. The hostess scooped out some for me anyway.
As I looked around the social, I saw everyone greedily eating their ice cream—everyone that is except for the poem’s author. She didn’t even have a bowl yet. She sat quietly with sweat running down her face, watching everyone enjoy dip after dip of their chocolate and vanilla. She’d been waiting for about 30 minutes before the hostess realized her mistake and quickly served the poet a couple scoops.
I watched her as she savored the first taste. She slowly licked it from her spoon and let its icy sweetness glide down her throat and cool her sweaty skin. During her second bite, she closed her eyes and let out a deep, relieved sigh of appreciation. The heat and length of her wait definitely made her first couple of spoonfuls more enjoyable, but as she made her way to the bottom of the bowl, everyone—including the poet—realized she was eating the exact same thing we all were: a delicious treat that no matter how careful you are, winds up making a sticky brown mess.