When you’re in the thick of it, especially the first three months or so, you really don’t understand what people mean when they say the old phrase that “it passes so quickly.” In the beginning, some of the days literally feel like years. If you’re sleep deprived, the minutes may feel like years…
But when you’re looking at all of those struggles through your periphery you start to see that, in the grand scheme of time, the first year whizzes by. It’s true. I mean, here we are at one year. I’ve been here with Laila Grace for every single thing. Every milestone, The first time she rolled over. Her first laugh. The first time she said “mama” and knew that’s who I was. I have been here. I have been blessed to be here.
I have struggled to be grateful for the opportunity to stay home with my girl. I have come face to face with my own pride. I have been humbled in many ways. I realize how much I have grown in my first year as a mama. I realize that I am a completely different parent than I thought I’d be. And (of course) I see areas that still need improvement.
I have learned to let go a little bit. I let go of my need for every single thing (in my day-to-day life) to be perfectly scheduled (I didn’t even anticipate that this would be an issue or an area where I would see growth or need growth). I have become more open to allowing (for lack of a better word) daddy Wes to step into his role as Laila Grace’s daddy. I have begun to let of of the ideas of how quickly (or slowly) I would/should “bounce back.” I mean, I got rid of a lot of clothes that I no longer fit in this season of my life because trying to get dressed each day was stressing me out. I acknowledge that motherhood is hard and I’ve really got to do the best that I can at any given moment. I am doing the best that I can.
One thing that motherhood has made me realize is that I can only ignore my issues (with my parents, with my husband, etc.) for so long before they come barreling back into my life in the form of a parenting conundrum. I thought that marriage would be the thing that makes me look at myself and my flaws and my wounds in the mirror. It turns out that motherhood… parenthood… really does it. I realize that there is GRACE for me to accept and receive for the task at hand. But that that grace is not a reason brush things off and say to myself “grace will cover that.” I do not want to take God’s grace for me in this season for granted.
We celebrated the baby’s first birth anniversary a week early. I was stoked. I pinned stuff on Pinterest. I texted my sister friends to ask for advice and ideas. The get-together was intended to be small and fun. It was anything but those things. My house is small and I spent the weeks prior getting myself really worked up thinking about how terrible the baby’s party would be. My mom was supposed to come. Wes’ parents were supposed to come. Those three were bound to give me a headache for sure. But… nope. None of them gave me a headache. I sabotaged my happiness at my daughter’s party all. by. myself.
Speaking of all by myself. Even though I’d asked for help with prep, I couldn’t (read: wouldn’t) allow anyone to help. I was upset because I was doing it all on my own. I was upset that when I finally asked my husband for help that he was not willing because he was “too tired.” Then when he finally did help, he didn’t do it the way I wanted so I was angry about that. By the time the party rolled around, I’d worked myself up into a really big fit. Seriously. I did that. All by myself…
By the time the party was over, I was quite unhappy. I missed my baby because she was being passed from person to person to person. I missed my peace that I had kicked out long ago. And I was angry that I’d “ruined everything” with my poor attitude. I literally had to take a time out after the party was over. I was so busy busying myself in the kitchen that I didn’t really hang with all of the people who came to celebrate Laila Grace’s life. I’m really good at self-sabotage…apparently. I mean, my little sister asked me if I was angry. I guess my mood was written all over my face. Sometimes, I wish I wasn’t so transparent.
After a year (and 10 months) of being a mama, I can honestly say that this transition has been one of the hardest I’ve ever endured. It’s been hard because I’ve come face-to-face with (even more) issues than I thought I had. It’s been hard because I’ve refused help from people because I don’t trust that they’ll take care of my baby the way that I want her to be taken care of. It’s been hard because I’ve struggled with the whole idea of not finding my identity in what I do instead of Who I belong to. I’ve fought for joy. I’ve fought for contentment… not with being a mama (I LOVE that) but with not being a teacher. It’s been hard because I’ve felt alone in all of this.
So, my first year of motherhood could be summed up the same way that my baby’s first birthday was summed up… sort of. I needed help but didn’t want to accept it or ask for it. I needed time to myself but I didn’t let anyone help so I didn’t really get much time to myself. I needed to (as my sis told me) expect good things when I automatically go to worst case scenario for every situation I do not have control of (which is a lot).
On the upside, I’ve found contentment. I’ve found a little glimmer of the person that I am becoming. I am not who I used to be and that is okay. I no longer mourn my old life because I want to fully embrace my new life.
Now, when I say of the phrase “Welcome to motherhood,” it’s not (usually) sarcastic or tongue-in-cheek, I say it with a genuine respect for the role of mama/mother/mom. It’s a tough gig. We (mamas, daddies, caretakers) shouldn’t feel that we need to censor our feelings or the things we’re going through because we may be too “real.” We all need people who will listen, laugh, cry and rejoice with us. Without judgement. Most of us are doing the absolute best that we can.
Welcome to parenthood. Enjoy yo’self!