Star in your own movie: Motherhood

Lights, camera, action!

Advertised position: Mother … the role of a lifetime. Promising a front row seat to the extended (unedited) movie that is your “child’s life”.
Job description: Co-creator and director of the star.
Job roles: executive assistant/gofer, cleaner, medic, chauffeur and financier to the movie star.
Pay rate: unconditional love.
Taxes: heart ache, anticipation, laughter and exhaustion.
Genre: love story with some action, comedy, horror.
Rating: varies, P, PG, M, and MA 15+, usually with some course language.
Contracted position: an 18 year contract? But some contracts last a lot longer.
All are welcome to apply…

Thirteen years ago, I accepted the job position advertised as Mother, and I was ready for my starring role. It seemed to be a straight-forward position on offer, my age and gender deemed me qualified, the job on offer was in my local area so travel wasn’t an issue, and it seemed to suit all my future needs. And I also knew of many others who had taken the position – some took the position multiple times!

Would I succeed in such an important position?

I was not unsure…

I had my role models, the mothers who came before. They had expected similar positions and succeeded in much different times.

My grandmother from my mother’s side, Rosa Caruana, was born 1909, married late for the time, raised twelve children during times of true poverty, survived a world war, buried two of her children. I mean she had to collect water from a well and slept on mattresses made out of straw.

My grandmother from my father’s side, Rose Attard, raised six children on her own, buried one, moved and worked in a foreign country with no family or financial support, but was able to get a home and support and raise her children independently.

Then there is my own mother, Christine Attard (the first love of my life), who was born in 1945 just as World War 2 ended. She then came to Australia and had to adapt to a different culture, but she married and raised four children. I being the second eldest got to observe and pay attention daily to how she washed cloth nappies and boiled bottles in a pot. I got to watch how she worked day after day, begged and borrowed and did whatever was necessary to raise four healthy children, and she did it financially and emotionally on her own. I didn’t realise this at the time, but she was able to provide more than just a house: she provided a home. I watched in awe of how she did it all of this with love, enthusiasm and compassion.

If these women could do the job facing such adversity, surely, I can do this job in 2003.

IMG_4514_edit

Photo credit: Lisa Cole

Congratulations, you are pregnant!

I jumped in with both hands and feet and my sleeves rolled up. I was ready for this position. I knew I probably wasn’t emotionally prepared, but I was ready.

After all, I knew about morning sickness, back ache, swollen feet, stretch marks, sleepless nights, dirty nappies, three-hourly feeds, burping, wind, colic, labour pain, caesarean, birth plans, epidurals. You name it, I knew it.

I had all the latest baby books, a bassinet, a matching cot and change table, a porta-cot, organic baby clothes and linen, an electric bottle sterilizer, three sizes of disposable nappies, a multi-function pram and the latest baby seat, a baby monitor, dummies, body suits in every colour, singlets, socks, hats, mittens, thermometer, nail clipper: everything a baby needs.

22nd Jan 2004, 11:34 pm: Congratulations, meet your son!

The star had arrived.

He had ten little fingers and ten little toes, two eyes, two legs and a little head and a body that was now breathing independent of me. This was a crazy feeling. I knew him: he was mine, but it was the first time we were meeting. Was he really mine? I looked at him and it was hard to believe that only minutes ago, he was in my stomach inside my body, he was part of me.

There was now this little person, a real human being who had a stomach, lungs, a brain, an esophagus. My body, with some help, had fertilised and incubated a human being. I was going to look after him for ever…

But within minutes, the doctors took him away to measure and weigh him, and they wheeled me off in a different direction to recovery.

I knew I had just had just had major abdominal surgery and that I should rest, but I just wanted know where that little human being was. I think I wanted to be next to him. Wasn’t sure what I was going to do with him, but I did want to be next to him.

I felt something…

As each second passed

I felt something…

As each minute passed

I felt something…

As each hour passed

I felt something…

The feeling I was having started off like a warm heat that passed gently through my veins, and the warmth I felt passing through my veins began to intensify, and it, strangely, seemed to fluctuate.

This feeling, this something I was feeling, it was really strange, different, new, somewhat overwhelming. It was powerful; it was downright scaring. I had never experienced anything like it before.

I started to notice that this feeling would change; depending on the proximity of this little human being, the further away he was from me, the hotter the warmth in my veins felt. The closer he was to me, the cooler it felt. This feeling could change my breathing; it seemed physical; it was instinctual. I had no control over it.

What was this feeling? I wasn’t sure that I liked it.

But it seems it is not negotiable.

I soon came to understand that this feeling, this feeling that was continuous, unrelenting and controlled my whole being, was “a mother’s love”.

I was connected to this little human being forever.

It is because of this love that I know and understand what being a mother is. There is not a real job description that adequately advertises the position.

If I got to choose that name of my motherhood movie it would be called A Mother’s Love staring Seth as the movie star, me as the mother and Pat (Seth’s devoted father) as my leading man.

I have realised that, no matter what the decade is when you accept the position, our roles as mothers are the same: to raise the next generation to the best of our abilities under the circumstances we have at hand.

Happy Mother’s Day.

Michelle Attard

Michelle Attard is 43 years young and joined the club of motherhood 12 years and 3 months ago. She always knew she wanted to be a mum, and she was never really sure she would be a good one, but she knew she would give it the best she could.