I have had to wear lots of different hats in my life – the daughter hat, the sister hat, the friend hat, the single, unattached hat, the worker hat, the carefree hat, the wife hat… you get the picture. I’ve worn innumerable hats for a long time; some are occasionally easier to wear than others, while there are some, I would say, that gave me the best of times and the worst of times all at once.
On February 6, 2009, when I found out I was pregnant with Sophia, I was handed a new hat to wear. A special hat. The scary, yet very wonderful Mommy hat. While I was not unprepared for it, I was blown away when I finally did get my Mommy hat on that day when I found out we had a baby on the way.
Since then, I’ve learned many things, such as once you put on the Mommy hat, there’s no taking it off. Not even when you’re at work and rushing to meet deadlines, not even when a day’s work plus household chores leave you exhausted, not even when you want to take 15 minutes to bathe, not when you and your husband take off for a date night, or when you’re sitting in traffic and the wee one has to go. And certainly not when the baby is feverish and it’s 3AM and you don’t know what else to do to get the fever down. No. You wear it on top of the other hats that you need to wear, no matter how unfashionable or uncool or tired or boring or anxious it will make you feel and look.
I’ve learned that wearing the Mommy hat can sometimes mean having to say ‘no’ to things that you want to say ‘yes’ to, like shopping trips (because you need the money for the baby’s shots), or spur-of-the-moment night outs with the girls (because let’s face it, secretly you’d rather stay in with the baby, whom you’ve missed so much during the day, even when someone can take care of her for you). Wearing the Mommy hat also means you can’t make it anywhere ‘in 10 minutes’ like you used to. There’s just the matter of packing her entire closet before you can take off, not to mention the fact that you need to get out of your pajamas, which takes a really long time these days!
But the most important thing I’ve learned from wearing the Mommy hat is that no matter how difficult and how challenging it can be to wear it, it is also one of the most rewarding of hats that I’ve ever worn. Yes, its weight can give such a strain – and it shouldn’t be a surprise, having to be responsible for the well-being and growth of your own child is no small matter – it is a weight that I will never trade for anything ever. The beautiful moments afforded by the Mommy hat take my breath away and give my life so much more meaning and fullness.
I know this hat I wear will have to go through many other ups and downs with me – I’ve only had it for 3 years, after all. But knowing that I am surrounded by other Moms, who together with their Mommy hats, have weathered storms, fought uphill battles and come out triumphant each time, bring comfort and encouragement to me.
So to all the Mothers in my life, I tip my hat to you. But only because I can’t take it off.