The New Love by Brooke Stone
I used to always hear mothers talk about the feeling you get when your baby arrives, “When you become a mom you’ll feel a love like no other and you will only know it when you see that baby for the first time. Or, “You’ll understand when you’re a mother.” It always bothered me when people would say that because I felt like it was almost a dig. I know something you can’teven begin to understand. I wanted to say, “No, [name of person who’s telling me this], maybe you just haven’t felt deep love before. You’re talking to a girl who bought a $3000 musical instrument and taught herself to play it. All to impress a boy. Oh I know deep love!
When I found out I was pregnant one of the many, many things I was looking forward to, was this new, incredible love I’d feel the second he arrived.
For me it was different. I didn’t experience it exactly like people said I would. When that baby came out, the first thing I felt was not a heart explosion of some new love at all. It was an incredible sense of relief that it had exited my body. Of course I loved him immediately and the experience of giving birth was straight up bonkers, in a really awesome way. But I didn’t feel an emotion I’d never felt before. Mainly I was tired and overwhelmed and I had acne all over my chest and face. I had heartburn that made me throw up for the last 6 months and the doctor had just straight up sliced open my vagina. I was just glad that baby was here, healthy, and out of my uterus.
The emotional changes I noticed came slowly, day by day in the months that followed. It started with simple moments when I would just look at him and think, “If anything ever happens to you, I will slit my wrists open the vertical way.” Then it expanded to feelings about the world around me.
Something you should know- I don’t particularly enjoy kids that much. I love me a cute kid but a troubled one? No thanks. My girlfriend Kristina was always trying to get me to volunteer with “at risk” youth because that was her cause. “No Kristina,” I’d say. ”I only like animals.”
Then one night my son had a bad dream. He was 3 months old and he woke up crying in the most heart breaking way. He had a nightmare and was so scared, I put him in my arms and held him until he calmed down and I thought, “What about the babies that don’t have someone to hold them when they wake up from a bad dream?” That thought haunted me for a solid month. I’m telling you- I’d be eating lunch, it’d pop in my head and my heart would just ache and ache.
I started to notice a change in myself when I began to rethink the whole volunteering thing. I found myself really caring and wondering about what happened, to the bad kids, to make them act out. Did they not have someone to hold them when they cried? Was that what was wrong on their insides to make them be such jerks on the outside? I, all the sudden, wanted to be their mothers.
There’s a man who sells waters at the ferry stop in Hoboken, NJ. He’s in his late 50’s and he has Cerebral Palsy. He wheels this heavy cooler out every day to make a little money. His mother just died and she was the one who took care of him. He too was a baby. He’s a baby with no mother. I wanted to be his mother too.
All the sweet bugs with their delicate little bodies. I will not squash you, mosquito, because I’m afraid of your bite. You’re just trying to get your eat on. Listen spider, up in the corner of my bedroom wall, with your scary, scary legs- I will gently take you outside because I am your mother now too.
So basically- I do feel a new love… but it’s not only for my son. It’s for bad kids, and the motherless, for bugs, and animals, for our planet, for the a-hole who cut me off in traffic. It’s even for inanimate objects sometimes. I thanked the elevator in my apartment building the other day, because it took me upstairs when I was so very tired. I’m basically the kid in American Beauty with the bag. How that character felt about that damn bag is how I feel about EVERYTHING now! I’m a new, even more open me. It’s like my heart is on mushrooms. I am just better. I’m more thoughtful. I’m more compassionate. I’m grateful. I take less shit. I like myself more. I gave birth to my son but I also gave birth to a new, greater part of myself. I am a mother now and I finally get it.
Brooke Stone is an actress/writer/Upright Bass player. Likes- soup, warm blankets, and fountain sodas. Dislikes- waking up early, factory farms, and small talking in Ubers.