When I received the #NakedMom’s prompt for this month, Motherhood & Growing, I immediately interpreted it in the most literal sense: the bulging bowling ball that is currently rolling around in my belly is a present reminder of exactly how much I have grown in motherhood…
Belly shots aside, I stopped to really reflect on the ways in which I have evolved since becoming a parent almost five years ago. Turns out the patience I never thought I had does exist, and whenever I feel like taking the bridge, I just call up my gal pals to make it all better.
1. My Type A planning tendencies were at an all-time high when I had my first baby. I precisely scheduled and tracked everything from sleep to bowel movements. (The baby’s, not mine.) After having my second (baby, not bowel movement) less than two years later, I realized I could trust her to “tell” me when she needed to sleep or was hungry. Now that I’m expecting #3, I am the least prepared in terms of “stuff,” but I have never felt so ready. Gaining a footing in this parenting game has made me more confident.
2. My body has proven its elasticity and capability three times now, and I have grown to admire and respect it in ways I never thought possible. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t enjoy the tinkle that accompanies the sneeze, but the ability to single-handedly sustain a small human? Awesome, in the truest sense of the word.
3. I’ve also experienced a new admiration and love for my husband. I always find him sexiest when he’s “in his element,” be that in front of a classroom teaching or on the baseball field throwing up gang signs from third base, but now his element is rolling around on the floor with our kids. Watching him be a dad makes my heart so full it could burst.
4. So all those warm and fuzzy feelings come at a price: becoming a mother is the most terrifying thing I have ever done, and that fear is permanent. I won’t even list the things that keep me awake at night, but if you’re somebody’s Mama, you know.
5. I had grandiose dreams of how the birth of my children, my becoming a mother, would positively impact everyone in our life. I am slowly learning that I need to seriously readjust these premature expectations, or I’m in for a world of disappointment. And so are my kids. This revelation has been more painful than I had anticipated.
6. Every now and again, this raging sense of entitlement hits me. I’m all, “I grew and birthed these babies, and gave up my career to stay home with them. I deserve a break!” I imagine it is natural to feel overwhelmed and long for some appreciation or acknowledgement for anything you spend an inordinate amount of time and energy on; motherhood is no different. In my experience, communicating my feelings and need for “me time” has been the answer to combating my obnoxious THROW ME A PARADE DAMMIT funk. My husband is very understanding, and the funk is no match for an afternoon spent with my girlfriends.
7. The laughter. The incredible, tangible joy. The indescribable happiness. Those are things I never knew until I had my kids.
8. The guilt. The self-doubt. The self-loathing. Some days, being a mother is like traversing rugged terrain in bare feet; we know it’s going to hurt, but we’ve got to keep on keepin’ on. But that doesn’t mean we’re not always looking over our shoulders like, “Did anyone catch that mistake?”
9. Perspective is another thing I’ve gleaned from this motherhood thing. A lost blankie is a big deal, thankyouverymuch.
10. The ability to function on three hours of sleep, simultaneously tie a toddler’s shoe with one hand and soothe a crying infant with the other, and remembering to brush my teeth before noon is a jackpot kind of day. A play-the-lottery-you-lucky-duck kind of day. I know it now, but had you told me all this while I was in the throes of those sleep deprived, harried days, I may have thrown my coffee pot at you.
I have learned that motherhood is a journey, not a destination; one that is full of mistakes, accidental discoveries, and successes of all sizes. It is constant change and constant growth. Granted, I’m only five years into the gig, but I understand the importance of trial and error, and of not allowing myself to feel too defeated on the days the Blahs outweigh the Yays!
On the 14th of every month, I’ll be revealing the truth about motherhood with 12 other writers. Follow the hashtag #NakedMoms, and check out the links below from the other moms and find out which stories resonate with you the most! (Links to come!)