you did it. you have a new child. your child. wow. what a joy it is. let that sink in. this joy is yours. all yours! along with that joy can come fear of your inadequacies. i recall the emotions that rushed through me those first hours and days. joy mixed with anxiety and a lot of..."i have no idea what i am doing." welcome to the club. although i had read a few books and had spent a lot of time with children before our little girl was born, i tended to err on the side of trusting my instincts and what seemed to work for us. i think there is a huge myth that when you become a mom it is supposed to be natural and easy and you should act and feel a certain way.
let me be honest and fair. it can be hard. okay, it is really hard. no one said it was going to be easy. but...the huge "but" i encourage you to cling to and hold tightly to is...it is worth it. it is all a part of becoming who you are going to be forever. the story of your child's beginning does not mean the ceasing of your own story. but instead a broadening, a widening, and a deepening of your own story. in this time of newness and lack of sleep you are becoming stronger than you ever thought you could be. you have a new and different purpose than you did before you became a mom. but for now try to breathe and relax. attempt to embrace the lack of sleep, hours of crying, and not knowing what to do with your emotions and the inability to cope with life the way you did before. think about what is going on inside you. i know for many of you that may be hard. the seemingly loss of purpose. mourning what used to be while balancing the new and sometimes not always fulfilling journey as a mom. you may feel like you have lost your sense of purpose, but actually you are gaining a whole new mission in your life. try not to worry about what else is going on outside your home or focus simply on your baby. but look at what is going on inside of you. even as i write this i keep pressing delete and retyping. i do not want to minimize the reality that motherhood is tough and the lack of sleep and isolation can be wearying...but i also do not want any of us to miss the joy of being pressed to the core of who you are - let me use caps for this (i never use caps): WELCOME TO THIS JOURNEY. the crazy insane emotions inside of you when you become a mom for the first time or even after your fifth child. it is so deep. it is so raw. it is almost unreal. but we are all different. we think and do things so differently...as a mom and as woman. the spectrum is so long and where you land on it is perfect for you. for your heart. for your family. for what fuels you as a mother. i hope you find that place. dig in and embrace it as your own while developing the ability to know when you may need to adapt and change for the sake of each child's personality, your own heart, and what is best for your family.
but know this...although each of our stories are different and the road to motherhood is vast and winding and sometimes a challenge...the ways it has changed me as wife and a friend and a sister and a daughter are like nothing i have ever seen or experienced. it's not just my relationships and commitments that are different, although they are...my heart is different. it is bigger and wider and i have found a whole new part of myself i never knew was there. (well…hello, libby).
when ava was 6 months old we found out that i had cancer. in a single moment our world seemed to crack a bit. our plans and our hearts shifted. they shifted forever. but as we walked down that road and entered into life as we had never known...what seemed to erase every sleepless night, temper tantrum, and screaming through the grocery store was...what if i missed all this? now a year after being declared cancer free and celebrating life and the true gift it is to be alive. i still yell sometimes. i sometimes loose it (ask my husband). i am exhausted after a random night where ava wakes up and asks for “more milky.” maybe it is not in that moment when i remember to be thankful and think about what if i had missed this? what if someone else was raising her? i try to always come back to that place because i know all to well what it is like to imagine life for ava without her mom. it is our choice to find the good in the midst of the bad and not forget the front seat we have been given on our children's lives as we watch them grow and learn. or what it is like to be the only person she wants when she gets hurt or is sick or is scared. it's me. her mom.
this whole mom thing can certainly be challenging. we will fail. we will need to ask for forgiveness. we will triumph. we will be proud. we will try and embrace the surprises and heartaches of motherhood in the best we know how...but the art of motherhood at least for me is finding the balance. how it all seems to fit together into what seems like a mess sometimes. but it works. what works for me may not work for you. so let's encourage one another and help erase the guilt as we discuss formula vs breastfeeding. schedule vs. no schedule. when to potty train. when to start school. when to say no and when to say yes. i want to say yes so much more. but balance that with teaching our children that they do not get what they want when we want it and how to remain grateful...no matter the circumstances.
for me a mother is...
an honor and a privilege. take it seriously...but not too seriously. live it up. make memories. go the extra mile when you would rather sit down. but along with that...enjoy a good nap when you can, watch max and ruby together (ava's favorite cartoon), and do not be so hard on yourself. you are a good mom. you are a good mom. if you really thinking about it...you are a great mom.
lastly...let's commit to never taking motherhood for granted. many women ache so deeply to be a mother. keep that in mind. i so often forget. it is about balancing the reality that many aspects of being a mom can be daunting...but necessary. i hope. oh, how i hope and pray that the joy that comes and swells up in our hearts for our own children is what we cling to and hold tightly to as we simply do the best we can...each and everyday.
happy mother's day.
Libby was one of the first people I thought of when I decided to do this series... In many ways, her first year of motherhood was a nightmare, with a life-changing cancer diagnosis just six months into her new "gig." BUT, Libby handled her circumstances with grace and hope and beautiful faith. Today, she is a wonderful, healthy mom to Ava (2); and, she is CHANGED. Forever. She chronicled her journey (the ups and downs) on her blog Don't Waste Your Cancer and continues to write (in her signature lower-case and authentic style) about making the most out of your life.
Come back for another great letter tomorrow... And, would you mind saying a little prayer for me as I delve into the culminating week of my year - standardized test week? Thanks friends!