In Japan, people consider a baby as a treasure, something absolutely priceless. You treat a baby as if s/he is one of the deities. One of the biggest hit songs in the latest Japanese pop music scene is called “A God of the Toilet.” Which shows that there are so many gods and so many beliefs inherited by this culture that they make the nation feel less arrogant if not humbled.
A baby is one of the most troublesome and demanding gods of all, having two contrasting faces: Devil and Angel. She demands from you your full attention, absolute calmness and patience while she puts you on the most thrilling roller coaster ride of your life. You’ve got to learn to be Zen about all the sentiments emerged from your mind in the brand-new role, mom. Otherwise, the god will drive you absolutely crazy and make your motherhood miserable, despite of its inspiring potential.
Early motherhood was the most challenging yet the most wonderful stage in my entire life. Can you imagine holding a god in your arms and being obliged to be at her non-stop service, 24 hours of devoted duty every single day? Especially, this god that sent to me was one of the fussiest ones of all with excessive sensitivity to all my senses. Every single emotion I felt was conveyed directly to her and she screamed with displeasure if it was something negative like a bit of anger, stress or irritation from the extreme fatigue caused by so many sleepless nights. When she sensed any of them, she would cry out “ I don’t care at all what you feel right now. Come on! Make my day!” And I would try out every single solution I could possible come up with. And if none of them worked, I would walk around the house helplessly, with my eyes full of tears and great beads of sweat on my brow, cradling the screaming god in my arms till she got tired of teaching me. What a lesson! I had to master the art of being, constantly loving and calm. Of course, I was the worst student in the field since “emotionally confused” is my trademark. She has never given me an A+ and still constantly offers me lessons on motherhood.
She doesn’t complain about the quality of my service or her nappies anymore. She doesn’t wake up, screaming her head off every two hours at night anymore. Yet she doesn’t offer me the miraculous bliss I felt as I fed her in my arms anymore, either. Instead of the god-like, perfectly beautiful smile, she has started throwing philosophical questions at me with the most intimidating look on her face. She often inflicts her philosophizing practices on me at the breakfast table. I hope I would receive some merciful pity from some of you if you could only imagine the scene: a mom in her 40’s with a hysterically busy schedule for the day, still in her PJs, with creatively messy hair and sleepy eyes, holding a mug of espresso from which she is sipping in an attempt to convince her aging body and brain to come up with a reasonably satisfying breakfast for her daughter. Those, who possess tender hearts, must be shedding a tear by now.
On the first day of the school, the day of her entrance ceremony, in one of her best dresses, she suddenly fell silent at the breakfast table and threw out the questions: “What is life, mom? What’s the point of it?” These are not totally innocent and adorable reflections of a first grader, are they? These big questions only occurred to me when I was in my early 20s, for god’s sake. How am I supposed to admit that it took this girl only 6 years of intense observation of grown-ups to come up with them? How is it possible to maintain the dignity of motherhood when faced with this little philosopher? On the spot, I got a really bad feeling that she would rock some of teachers’ worlds so badly that they would give her a hard time at school. At that time, I thought I had learned to put my ego aside and become as sincere as possible with her, as a “perfectly imperfect being”, to use her term. But it was quite tough to keep myself together and not scream some vicious lines hysterically. I held my breath for a while and managed to say, “Brilliant questions, girl.” And guess what she said! No it is unimaginable. She went, “You just don’t know, do you?” with one of the most daunting eye rolls on the planet. It is certainly not the most loving treatment for a mom who feels high on the anticipation of her daughter’s infinite possibilities, is it? But she certainly strengthens my capacity to listen beyond words.
This skill has been helpful in my teaching carrier. Because of her, I’m more sensitive to the facial expressions and body language of my kids. I have nearly 40 of them. They are not my biological children but they are all dear subjects of my affection. Together we explore the universe of our minds through learning English. Our little shack, the space that facilitates our shared learning process, has unexpectedly become a hideout for every one of us. And the moments I have the great fortune to share with them have been my main source of income and,of the air for my lungs. In other words: a source of life full of spontaneity and laughter. Providing an everlasting fun tour of the wonderland of English to the loveliest, the most intriguing, the most adorable and yet the most critical gods, children, is also one of my main motivations to becoming an M.A. Mama.
I’ve already announced to them all, including the most severe one, my biological daughter, that I plan to climb to the top of the hill of academia and report back to them on what the world looks like from there. Considering their reaction - a concert of eye rolls and L signs on their foreheads - I have no choice now but to just do it, haven’t I?