I’ve spent a lot of time in my head over this post. I’ve also written it several times trying to find the best way to express what this year has been and has meant. I find the tone of my words depends on the particular day that I am having, so I try to give them air before pushing publish.
It’s hard writing these posts, because even though this is supposed to be a space for me to share my personal experience, I feel worried about how my sharing might affect even one person reading it. I am a terrible over analyzer, so blogging isn’t natural for me, but writing is.
My only advice from this year, is to remember you know what is best for your child and any “expert” you meet, is only an expert of their own specific situation. A good example of this is Wallis’ sound sensitivity, I love the parents that are like, we just kept life as noisy as it always was so our kid sleeps through anything. So your child didn’t have colic, silent reflux, or a startle reflex that every doctor/nurse commented on because it was mad intense, but you have advice on sleep for us…okay! (enter slow clap here). That’s just how it goes, and sure we can say these parents are well-intentioned with their advice that you didn’t ask for but in the end, all that matters, is you meeting the needs of YOUR child, so don’t be afraid to listen to yourself.
End of advice. Start of long rambling.
For me, becoming a mother has felt like a near death experience, in that who I was before is not who I am after. When you hear of people having these near death experiences, they often talk about how their life flashes before their eyes, and I have seen this too, but it was who I was before Wallis and who am I am becoming flashing before mine. There is such joy in these flashes of time, past and present, because I can say this without hesitation, every single thing in my life is better because she is here. Every thought, every failure, every success, every decision is better because it led me to her.
I have awoken from my experience alive, my heart beating in a way it has never before, my senses bound to this life like never before because she is in it, and I never want to go back. She brings out the best in me, when I am focusing on the worst. She reminds me of the important when I am focused on the pointless.
That doesn’t mean I am suddenly without goals, or dreams, or desires or faults or fears. That doesn’t mean I am suddenly a different person that doesn’t turn away from mirrors or fights with my husband or wants to disappear. It just means, that among all the same, all the worst this life has to offer from the big to the little, she is my constant light and rebalancing of mind, because she is the definition of purpose.
Everything else is a want but Wallis is a need, and I am found in this as much as I am disarmed and paralyzed by this. I might be an adult, but raising a child is not adult intuition – it’s Godly intervention for how powerful of an experience it is. I am not greater than He, I am not stronger than it.
And this is where my direction shifts – where I move from the joy of motherhood to the exhaustion of motherhood. Where I tell you that I have also experienced moments of anger like I’ve never before this year – not at Wallis, but at everyone and everything else, because it’s so damn overwhelming.
Of course I do not feel this way all the time, but I have been surprised at how quickly my temper can wash over and consume me – how exhaustion can contort my normally open and empathetic mind.
I have struggled to relate to some parents not in my same situation. What is my situation? I am a full-time mom that works part-time. I am a mom that can not afford to hire help, but at the same time, I am the type of person that wouldn’t if she could. I mean look at how I am with my dogs, they’re never even alone outside, if I become responsible for something – it’s stuck with me!
I am a mom that sacrificed a business she worked years and hustled to build herself, moving on from all of her clients but one, and a mom that walked away from a video business she started on the side, just when it was starting to take off. All those hours, and time invested…gone (at least for now). I have no regrets, but I do not want to feel that my sacrifices were not as important or hard to make, and I have been made to feel that way around some parents.
It’s really hard to work and stay home with your child. You are working during naps, you are working during bed time, you are working on the weekends, on top of the daily house work and cooking (so much cooking and cleaning up) you’re already doing, or the home maintenance or even huge house renovation projects…there’s zero down time. You are running all day long until bed, and even then, your evenings do not end…because babies do not care that you have a job.
It isn’t as though I want some medal, it’s just I’m not ready to feel like we’re all in the same boat, when in reality, I am in a dinghy plugging holes with my toes. So you have to be careful here, because it’s very easy to have judgmental moments due to the pressures that come from parenthood, but I’ve learned that it’s important, now more than ever, to surround yourself with honest genuine people who acknowledge the importance of separate experiences, and take time to converse with you about your own, or you will feel drained by those that seek only to uplift and comfort themselves.
Obviously, this is something we learn as we get older in general with relationships, but when your mind is working harder than it ever has before, you seriously do not have the capacity for drama, of any kind. You do not need that bonus stress, so you must consider what is best for you, even if that means walking away from relationships you felt obligated to, or you thought meant more than they truly did. Parenthood brings out your BS detector like no other situation can, and beating yourself up over does everyone like me or keeping everyone happy is simply impossible.
I get angry because I get hurt at how much I feel I do not matter as Wallis’ mom. It’s an instant turnover, you carry your child for 9 emotionally intense months, you painfully birth, destroy your body and have to heal while simultaneously caring for you child. You spend all of your energy, every ounce of who you are on that child from the moment she is placed in your arms, and yet, you are invisible as that centered piece in her life to everyone else.
Rarely do you hear any semblance of praise, rather the lack of response to you as her mother is deafening. Instead, it’s about everyone else in the room, and oh my if she’s with her father, let the clouds of angels descend upon the glory that is man.as.father.
I could be standing there with my nipples bleeding, unbathed for days, covered in all of her — and the one moment she walks over to her dad, the gasp from the room, oh she loves her daddy, look at her with her daddy. I am not jealous, I am numb, and raw. Andrew should be praised, he is a great father. I tell him that every single day…but why am I not equally valued? Is the work I do, the love I give, the sacrifices I make somehow of lesser importance?
I try to process the rejection and the invisibility I feel aching against my exhausted body. My hurt turns into resentment and I find myself quipping back at things, that I don’t really think – but am trying desperately to hold my own self up, since no one else is.
Andrew and I snap at each other often. He has never driven me more insane than this year. I talked about this here. Everything I didn’t love about him before, seems to be lit up like a Christmas tree marching around yelling, I AM SO ANNOYING! Leaving me crotched down ready to bounce on the slightest error of judgment (which there have been many) and I am just trying to make sense and stay on top of everything, while it feels like he is mucking it up.
I haven’t just been angry at Andrew though, I have been angry at those close to me, because I have felt out-of-control and falling behind most of this year. There have been so many things that have gone wrong and so many things we’ve had to work around often changing in the very moment we’re trying to work around them (Olive almost dying and scaring us to death, to name one example). And when your world is spinning madly, but everyone else you know is going about their days like you didn’t just have a bomb go off in your life, resentment again, starts to creep in.
When I step back from my overwhelmed angered fueled moments, which I do often, I am beyond grateful and in love, so in love with Andrew, who has been a selfless father, and a true partner in this, who has worried over me and loved me, despite losing me in some ways to this change. I am also beyond grateful for my family, who are over-the-moon in love with Wallis, and want to help with her when they can. I respect all parents going through this experience, the ones before me and after, as it is truly something that is not for everyone and nor should be promoted as so.
Overall, it’s impossible to sum up this year, or even the experience of becoming a mother for the first time, because it’s a constant becoming, ever-changing, heart consuming change. I am better for it, and I am weaker for it too. There are days where being alone with Wallis all day is the only thing I want from this life, and then there are days, when the idea of it gives me anxiety.
I was not prepared for motherhood. I was not prepared for how it feels to not get everything done every day. I was not prepared for how much I would need Andrew’s help and how hard that is on me. I was not prepared emotionally for what feels like a constant rotation of failure and success. I was not prepared for the never-ending guilt that I feel, how at night I play the events of the day over and over in my head checking each moment I wish I had done better. I was not prepared for the way her crying, whining, talking, laughter, or even facial expressions would reverberate within me and through me, forever intertwined with the wiring of my mind, my heart, my soul. I was not prepared for this kind of love, or for looking at the world through this kind of love.
Everything you read about motherhood is how to get your body back, breastfeeding vs formula, stay-at-home vs working…ect…but none of that actually matters, as long as you’re doing your best. When I look at Wallis, I don’t wonder if she thinks I’m fat, or if she’s noticing the bags under my eyes. When I see her walking at 9 months and placing Cheerios in a row on her bananas, I don’t think about breast milk or formula. When I rock her to sleep and the weight of her body presses deeply into my own, I don’t think about my career…all I think about in those moments, is how did I get so damn lucky, and how I do I keep myself sane enough, present enough to fully embrace this time in my life, the best time of my life.
I will probably ask myself this for the rest of my life, because I am a mother now, and even when I am dust turning back into the earth, I will still be a mother.
Reader note – please remember that this is one year of my experience as a mother. That I am speaking from the many moments of transformation that have occurred, some positive some negative. I am not changing your situation by expressing my own. I am simply working it out and re-working it. Thanks for allowing me to do that.