"Tell us your impressions about motherhood," the cheerful instructor asked the group of new moms sitting cross-legged on the floor with newborns in our laps. A newbie to this mommy-and-me infant class, I greeted the discussion time each week with equal parts eagerness and apprehension. I desperately wanted to get to know these other moms, to connect with them, to make a friend. But, really, they scared me half to death with their angelic babies, their new mom glows, and their judging eyes.
Slowly each mom began sharing their thoughts about motherhood with the group. One mom gazed at her baby with twinkly eyes and said she felt overwhelmed with love. Another mom gushed about how in love she was with her beautiful baby girl. And another said that she was amazed that her heart had the capacity to feel such (surprise!) love. From the sounds of it, I was shocked that these moms were able to tear themselves away from gazing lovingly at their beautiful little bundles of love in order to get themselves to this class.
Then it was my turn. With sweaty palms, a fluttering heart, and a wavering voice, I said, "It is all just so much more than I ever expected." To which I received a symphony of deafening silence and blank stares.
Maybe they saw the half-crazed look in my eye, sensed the signs of post-partum depression, and were afraid that they might catch it, like a cold or the stomach flu. Or maybe they really had no idea what I meant.
But that was the only way I could think of to describe motherhood: more. More painful, more exhausting, more expensive. More vulnerable, but more protective. More fearful, but more purposeful. More isolating, but more unifying. More challenging, but more fulfilling. And, yes, there was more love too.
I've always lived on the edges of the emotional spectrum. A highly sensitive child, I had difficulty separating another person's pain from my own. I wear my heart on my sleeve and often wish that my paper-thin skin were thicker and coarser because then things would be less charged, less affecting, less intense.
But why in the world would I want less when there can be so much more?
Because with more of this comes more of that. Providing for a family is more expensive and work is more stressful, but the pride that comes from doing those things is also more satisfying. Friendships are more difficult to maintain, but they are also more meaningful. The world seems more dangerous, but it is also more amazing. People are more complex, but they are also more resilient. Marriage is more work, but it is also more rewarding. Parenting is, well, more everything.
Eventually I dropped out of that infant class after I met a group of friends -- real friends -- who were more fun than any pretentious class could be. Those other moms could keep their sugar-coated, gushy, twinkly-eyed love.
I want more.
This post originally appeared on the author's website.