I have to admit, I’ve been really looking forward to Mother’s Day this year. Last year was honestly pretty awkward, because I was 8 1/2 months pregnant, and everyone was wishing me a happy Mother’s Day and my uncle made a special point to include me in his Mother’s Day prayer, but I didn’t feel like I could celebrate it yet…I mean, technically, yes, but…Anyway. It was awkward, is all. This year, after eleven months of being mama to my Miss Adelaide, and having experienced the highs and lows that motherhood brings with it, I feel like I’ve earned the right to celebrate this Mother’s Day. If that makes sense.
The past few days, I’ve been reflecting on my brief time as a mother, and what I’ve learned, accomplished, and still struggle with.
Those first few months were such a struggle. My postpartum depression was at its worst. I felt so alone, I felt trapped and miserable. I felt like I wasn’t myself anymore, and the scary thing was I wasn’t sure if I ever would be ME again. Someone told me that you’re never the same person again after childbirth, and although I know they didn’t mean it in a bad way, those words terrified me, because I didn’t like the person I was. I hated feeling ashamed for giving up on breastfeeding after my milk refused to come in, and spending painful hours pumping to produce only 4 ounces a day. I felt constantly guilty for not being like the other new moms who had bonded so perfectly with their babies, when it was three months before I could honestly feel the beginnings of love for my baby. When Adelaide was three months old, Josh and I went walking with another couple with a baby who was the same age, and the mom kept saying how every little thing was so exciting, how her heart was so full of love, and when we got home, I cried into my husband’s chest for what felt like hours. I told him I just didn’t feel like I could be around other mothers for a while. And I got angry at the flip of a switch. I don’t think I’d ever gotten angry like that.
There were so many times when I regretted becoming a mother, and wondered if I’d even been meant for motherhood.
It was so hard to see anything but darkness ahead. And looking back on it, I should have gone back to my doctor and admitted that my PPD wasn’t “getting better,” and I probably should have gone on medication. It’s taken a lot to get to the point where I am now, finally starting to settle in and enjoy motherhood, and to feel like myself again. I can’t tell you how grateful I am to have gotten to this point.
I will say I’ve learned a lot, not just about “momming,” but about taking care of myself and my relationship with my husband, which are both so, so important.
One of the most important things I’ve learned is that yes, of course you have to take care of your baby, but you have to take care of yourself too. So if that means having the husband take the baby so you can shower, or having a relative take her for a couple hours so you can just go to the store or get coffee alone, or letting that pile of laundry sit while you work on your hobby, that’s fine. Self-care has been so important, and it really helped my sanity. Just like frequent date nights and just taking time for each other are important to keep Josh and my sanity intact.
I used to hate the “How do you like being a mom?” question, because I felt like I couldn’t answer it honestly, but now I do genuinely like being mama to my little girl. It’s fun, I’m more confident (and happy!), and I’m finally starting to be excited about all those little milestones. And it is really rewarding.
I love playing with my sweet girl. I love how excited she is now that she’s learned how to clap and play “so big”. I love that wide, toothy smile. I love how she will climb on my lap and let me read to her. I love her very rare, but very cute giggle. I love how she says “Numnumnum” when she’s eating. I love how excited she gets when Dada comes home. And I love when she gives hugs. She’s pretty stinkin cute, and I love smothering those chubby cheeks with kisses, even though she hates all forms of physical affection.
I definitely still have stuff to work on…I mean, the other big lesson Josh and I both learned this year is not to take shortcuts with raising Adelaide (even if it means less sleep…sleep training, for one, is hard on everyone involved!), but it can be so tempting to make it just a little bit easier on yourself, even when you know it’s a bad decision in the long run. Personally, I need to work on my patience (Did anyone else’s patience just disappear during pregnancy? Seriously, I used to have so much patience, and now I have none, not for anyone.), and not stressing about being supermom, because I do let that get to me. It’s okay to have dirty dishes and unfolded laundry! In the end, they’re not important.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that being a mom is hard (oh my goodness, so hard!), but it can be pretty great, and that makes it worth it.
Happy Mother’s Day to all you mamas out there! You are amazing! Keep up the good work.