Stumbling to kitchen for a bottle.
Trying to remember how to change a diaper.
Staring blankly at the wall.
Repeat, ad nauseam…
Becoming a mom is exhausting. Multiply that exhaustion by the number of children already in the house, and divide by the number of competent adults – which between the hours of 12-5 a.m. is not me (or my husband!).
A very dear friend from out-of-state is staying with us right now. Between the two of us we have 5 kids: 8, 3, 2, 3 months, and 10 days. I gave birth to the younger two and she adopted the older two and is in town adopting the littlest newborn right now. We often talk about how our experiences of motherhood are different: adoption vs. pregnancy and birth, raising babies vs. starting out with older kids, being a mom in Oklahoma vs. being a mom in Oregon, etc.
It’s been chaotic in my little house for sure with five kids and only two moms, but it’s been fun to be side-by-side doing the “baby thing” together since we live so far apart and see each other so irregularly. It’s been like a chaotic mommy-sleepover!
It’s taken very specialized choreography to meld our families together while they’re waiting for the final adoption paperwork. Neither of our husbands are here, and we’re both operating out of survival mode, though her much more than me. We’re both sleep-deprived and often have a baby in one arm while wrangling the older boys, making lunch, and washing bottles with the other.
Most nights we’ve been like ships passing in the night, each baby (and mama) miraculously sleeping through the other’s screams. But last night our babes were on a similar schedule. We frequently passed one another in a daze, silently maneuvering around the other, prepping bottles and washing pump parts. We were like wind-up dancers on a music box, gracefully dancing around each other without interacting. We were lost in our own steps of the “Midnight Mombie” while our babes screamed in harmony from their respective parts of the house.
Last night, as I watched her care for her tiny infant in those early morning hours, a familiar truth hit me in a new way: we’re exactly the same. It may be flavored differently by our unique experiences, but Motherhood is universal. It’s a shared connection that unites us all. We’ve spent most of our relationship as mothers discussing our differences, but, as it turns out, we’re really not that different after all. The stark separation between adoption and birth, raising older kids and raising babies, was suddenly gray, and in the haze of the midnight hours, it looked exactly the same.
Because this is what love looks like.
Because no sane person would willingly subject themselves to years of sleepless nights and give up their right and ability to eat a meal in one sitting. But that’s part of what makes a mother’s love unique from any other kind. It is fierce. It is unwavering. And it is the same regardless of how or when her child came to be part of the family.
As mothers we all dance the “Midnight Mombie.” It’s a badge of honor we all earn (over and over and over and over…). It is propping your eyelids open with toothpicks as you feed your newborn again for the gazillionith time that night. It is cleaning up bodily fluids all night (and all day) when your kid is sick. It is sleep-less pacing and deep worry for your grown child as they navigate hard times in their own life.
It’s one thing to know the simple truth that a mother’s love contains the same elements from one mother to another. But it makes a powerful reminder to see that love in action in the quiet moments when no one’s watching.