A Reflection on Motherhood
In three days Miles will be nine months old and will have existed approximately the same amount of time outside of me as he did inside. As I’ve been reflecting on that fact, I realized that I haven’t really given an update on how motherhood has been going for me.
I understand that my child isn’t even a year old yet, but I think we can reflect on an experience at any point in our journey. Creating a life, welcoming it, and learning how to care for that life is a tremendous undertaking. I’m sure my reflections will differ every year (or more) as he grows, and it’s always good to start somewhere. It goes without saying that all of our experiences differ, but here’s a brief look at mine.
You may remember my trepidation with when to start expanding our family, as I wrote about it each year that went by (this post and this post). I was never struck with “baby fever” or felt any kind of yearning to create a life that I could nurture and grow. After having Miles, this changed. Now, in looking at infants younger than him or even pregnant and expecting mothers, I already miss it. I miss how tiny he was and how big I became. I miss all of it and already feel excitement and anticipation of when I can do it again. This was unexpected, for sure.
As I always excelled in school and knew how to follow directions, I was pretty confident in career roles that I tried out. I wasn’t worried about finding a job out of college or grad school (before all the chaos, of course), but it always felt like work. Then I had a child.
This didn’t feel like work. Sure, sleepless nights are hard and some days are worse than others. I’m also blessed with a baby with a wonderful temperament. But this was different. Where I always questioned every life decision I made and spent time on the internet trying to see if I was making the right one, I did virtually none of that with motherhood. I joined a Facebook group of mothers with similarly aged children, but soon stopped reading the posts because people questioned EVERYTHING. I’m certainly not faulting those mothers — a brand new child is a terrifying thing — but this was the one time in my life where I just knew.
I knew how to feed him. I knew after our 6-week breastfeeding journey that it was ok to switch him to formula because that was what was best for him and me. I knew how to change his diaper, when to put him to sleep (after a little learning curve), and when it was time for him to move on to a new sleep stage. I developed an intuition and confidence around my decisions that felt so much more freeing than how I was accustomed to living my life. More than anything, I knew how to love him.
It felt natural. I’ve been somewhat of a caretaker for most of my life, but in a very maladaptive way. I would caretake so that someone would like me. I would do it to avoid conflict. I would do it because I only knew how to live codependently. I am so thankful that I worked on these issues before having children because it could be very easy for me to throw myself into my child and lose my own sense of self. I could easily blur boundaries and abandon self-care. Thankfully, I am in a place where I understand that taking care of my own mental and physical health is important for me to show up for my family, although it would be easier to hide from all of that under the guise of motherhood.
My OCD kicked into overdrive several months after having him and I was constantly tormented with intrusive, graphic thoughts of how he would die. I went back to therapy to help me deal with the anxiety that came along with these thoughts, and things have gotten much better. They still happen periodically, which is always jarring, but I work on acknowledging that they are only thoughts and that helps me move past them quicker than dwelling on them as truth.
I’m working on defining and accepting what my role as a mother even means. When I was childless, I worked hard training people, teaching classes, writing, and building this platform. I struggled with if I should be relaxing or working during less busy times. I had to figure out boundaries, but it was easy because it was either between myself or work. Now, I’ve added motherhood into the mix.
I really admire stay at home moms and I understand that it’s not an easy job to have, even more so as I continue to raise my own son. I pass no judgement on others who define themselves this way, yet judge myself quite differently when I turn the mirror around. Yes, I continue to make money through this platform, but I would be lying if I said that it was the same level as it was in the past.
And yet I am incredibly grateful to be able to be present as my son awakens to the world. I feel honored to be the person who helps shape him into who he will become and I am more than excited to learn ways in which to appropriately do so. I want him to feel his emotions, learn them, and understand that they are all ok. That no matter who he is, he is loved.
So why do I heap judgement on myself for something I am so incredibly excited to do? Why do I feel like it’s not enough until I make “x” amount of money while also raising my son? It’s a product of my own biases and anxieties, which is something I’ve encountered before and have worked through before. It’s about shifting my own viewpoint and mindset and owning the choices that I make in life. It’s still a work in progress, but I recognize it and am working on it.
This post is full of many thoughts, some processed and some not, and I’m sure I’ve left something out. I really had no expectations about motherhood, which I think is what has helped me be able to take things as they come. It’s also allowed me to be blown away by the waves of feeling that I’ve encountered over these past nine months. The excitement, the confidence, and the love that I feel for this tiny being has been such a contrast to the life I struggled to live before this one.
I mentioned in an Instagram post not too long ago that I was waiting with bated breath to see what struggle I would have to go through with Miles. I was preparing myself to push through and share about it, when one day it struck me that maybe THIS was what was waiting for me on the other side of struggle and that maybe I could stop fighting and simply enjoy what life had given me. There will be struggles, for sure, but becoming a mother has not been one of them.
To read any of my other baby-related posts, you can find them here.