A Year Of Motherhood

December 14, 2016

Love at first sound is how it happened for us. I remember it so vividly, the Christmas music playing in the background amongst the the operating room buzz; the doctor and nurses chatting about current world news; the tugging, pulling, and pressure; the whoosh of her entrance, and then her healthy cry. Thirty-nine weeks and two days, I had been waiting to see her, touch her, feel her in my arms, and the moment was happening. I loved the way her hair was all curled and matted on the top of her tiny head. The way she cried until they nestled her into my gown and onto my chest. We fell in love hard, her and I.

Motherhood was instant, whether I was aware of it or not. The fierceness of being her protecter, her caretaker, her mama came like second nature. In every other aspect of my life I have felt bound by limitations. But, being a mama sends all of those notions out the door. Something deep in me, tells me that I can conquer just about anything for my girl. There is no love like a parent's, and it overwhelmed me in her first weeks of life. Four days after she was born, I cried hard because loving her physically hurt. Still today, my heart aches with every emotion she stirs within me, for the way I want to protect her from it all and can't. Trusting the Lord with her life has been the way to breathe through it.

The shift into motherhood was swift, easy, hard, and also complicated. It was everything all at once. A whirlwind. I found, and occasionally still find myself wrestling with my identity as a mother. Trying to maintain who I am as a woman in motherhood, has been a challenge. While most of my day is spent taking care of, entertaining, and loving my little, I still need to set aside the time to pour into myself. It's a balancing act that takes time to sort out. But, just because you're a devoted mother doesn't mean you can't be an accomplished woman outside of family life. It took some time for me to accept that as true and leave behind the feelings of guilt when I took time for myself, my passions, and my creative outlets. Mothering involves being a multitude of things, and you can only do it best when you're taking care of yourself in it and through it.

Mom life is an adjustment, but one worth making. While some things came naturally, others did not. I would feel success and failure in the span of just minutes. In those moments, comparison all too often crept in. Other mothers had it together, had it figured out. The feeling of inadequacy would threaten to swallow me whole. It wasn't until the six month mark that I began to realize that those other mamas are sometimes barely making it through as well. They don't have all the answers, and some days they're probably making it up as they go along too. Every day is a learning curve. You find a rhythm and let yourself settle in. But that rhythm is bound to change; it's always changing. Being a mama keeps me on my toes, literally now that she's mobile. There's no stopping, no pausing, no timing out. Even when she's napping. I'm constantly trying to think ahead so as to not fall behind. Mom life is always moving, always adjusting, always loving, and always pushing through. I've learned you don't know what will power is until someone calls you 'mama.'

Becoming a mother changed me from the inside out. I bare stretch marks and saggy breasts; the dark circles under my eyes have taken up permanent residence; a four-inch scar runs across my lower stomach; where clumps of hair fell out, short baby hairs now grow; and the muscles in my arms strengthen each passing day from carrying my girl always. More than any of those things, my heart now lives outside of my body. And because of that, I know an inexplicable intermingling of joy and fear. It gives my heart more delight and anxiety than it has every known. But, that I suppose, is motherhood at its core. And no matter her age, I have a hunch that feeling will never go away.

Being a mother is everything and more than I imagined. There are days I want to rejoice and others I simply want to cry. No one can make you feel more loved, more needed, than your child. And in the same breath, no one can push you to your breaking point like that tiny bundle. Motherhood is a mixture of love, joy, tears, happiness, caffeine, and grace. Truly, there's nothing quite so beautiful and messy. The reward in it is a gift every. single. day. Being a mother has pushed me past my own insecurities and made me a better, stronger person. There is nothing in this world I wouldn't do for my girl. She brings me more love, more joy, more happiness than I can describe.

No year has been sweeter, more challenging, or quicker. Nothing can possibly compare to this first year of motherhood. As much as I thought I prepared for it, nothing could fully get me ready for the heart of it or the transition. Motherhood wrecked me, while making me feel so very whole.