A year ago I was battling fatigue from delivering a baby and barely sleeping in the hospital. I had no idea what was coming in the hours, days, months, or years that were ahead of me.
One year later, I still don’t know what’s ahead of me…
If you know me in a real life, you know that I wasn’t sure I was mother-material. I think I still felt that way while in the hospital after giving birth. My mom laughs and says that I was in denial of impending motherhood up until we got to the hospital. Maybe that’s true…
It was so surreal those first couple of weeks–to think that the little human being crying on the outside was the little bump that used to be in my inside was just weird. I, like every mother, had huge learning curves–I had never changed a diaper before, had no clue what cry meant what, and no real idea how to entertain a baby.
My first few months of motherhood were hard, perhaps a little harder than normal. My husband was living in Indiana with his new job and would come home on some weekends, so I was a pseudo-single mom, working full time and caring for two dogs and a house. It was a definite crash course in handling anything and everything, and getting used to whatever would come my way. Need to go to the bathroom but baby is awake? Just strategically place her where you can still see her, but not close to the grossness that is the toilet. Starving and want to fix dinner, but the baby isn’t going to sleep? That’s what a carrier is for.
I struggled to breast feed–I wasn’t making much milk and Aubrey was a lazy nurser. Those first weeks of lactation consultant meetings and the first pediatrician we went to make me feel like a horrible mother. All I wanted to do was provide nourishment for our baby girl, and I wasn’t able to do that as well. Through exclusively pumping, I made it to the end of May, when I dried up under stress. I had enough milk frozen that she still got a couple ounces of breast milk with her formula for a couple more months, then she went strictly to formula…and I was OK with that. I had learned that it was OK, that everyone is different, and to be proud that I had tried.
I’ve learned how to balance life–perhaps not very well yet, but I’m still working on it. Being a full-time working mom, plus having a freelancing business and caring for other animals is exhausting. There are many late nights, and some early mornings, so I can get work done while A sleeps. I haven’t gotten back to a normal routine with the dogs, but there are other factors with that. As Aubrey gets older, I’m excited to incorporate more of my life with her so she can start to learn and do some things on her own.
For my first Mother’s Day, I listed some things that I had already learned in my few short months as a mother, including:
- Just like with my dogs, seeing her at the end of the day makes my day. Now that she’s smiling, to see her eyes light up when she sees me fills my heart with so much joy.
- If you think you’re too selfish to become a parent, think again. I thought I was, but all of that is thrown out the door when that little one enters your life. You will eat last (even my dogs and horses eat before I do), only get to shower if you can quickly squeeze one in, and their clothing needs come before yours. And, surprisingly, I’m OK with that.
- I now have a different perspective on that family eating out with a crying child, or the mother who looks frazzled while dealing with a child at the grocery. Before you gripe about how they’re child misbehave, or how dare they “ruin” your dinner out, take a moment to wonder if maybe they’re out to eat because they just want to get out of the house, or maybe that mother is a single mom doing it on her own. Have a little more patience and maybe offer to help, or compliment.
- Just a simple compliment can go a long way for an exhausted mom. Even if you’re not someone into kids, just asking your friend how they’re doing, or offering to meet for lunch (with or without offspring) means the world to them. A simple text to say hello and to check on them goes a long way, more than you’d ever know.
A friend once asked me, “What surprises you the most about being a mom?” Here was my answer:
- It surprises me how much I give of myself to her. I used to think that I was a very selfish person, hence why I didn’t want to have any kids. While it sucks to miss out on a lot of things, I know it’s for her, and that lessens the sting.
- It surprises me how much I’ve changed in my thoughts of things. When I’d hear babies crying or toddlers acting up at restaurants I’d chime in, “Ding! Beat the kid!” (inside joke from a comedian) But now I’m like, “Oh that poor momma…”
- It surprises me how lonely you feel as a mother. It’s hard to believe that you can feel that way when you’re constantly clung to, cried for, and pushed, but you do, especially if a lot of your close friends don’t have children. (And definitely when you move…but that’s a whole other blog post.)
- It surprises me how I am actually starting to plan in the future…for her. I always hated those questions in job interviews, “Where do you see yourself in 5/10 years?” because I could honestly say I have no clue…I didn’t plan in the future, except for a few months down the road. But now, I’m seeing A riding ponies, playing sports, etc.
- It surprises me how scared I am that I might make a mistake that will affect her in some way down the road. Am I reading enough to her? Is she eating the right things to grow and develop physically and mentally? Is she on the right track? I’m almost paranoid and find myself comparing A and ourselves to others, and I never used to do that (and I know it’s a scary cycle to do).
While A has definitely grown and evolved through the year, so have I. I’ve grown to accept that I am a mother, and I’m OK with that, and proud to be her momma. I’m just going to do the best that I can with what I know, and try my best to relish every moment. But I also want to make sure that I get back to finding myself again, and remind myself that I’m not just a mother, but a professional, a horsewoman, a dog trainer, an award-winning journalist, and a fit woman.
But, I’m still a mom. And she’s still my daughter. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.