15 months of motherhood
Bringing an actual person into the world, who is 100% dependent on adult humans, is one of the scariest and most rewarding things I will ever experience. After 40+ weeks of preparing for her arrival, I was surprised at how unreal this feeling was. This tiny human was counting on me to not screw it up. There is so much pressure just in that sentence. And of course, I have screwed up plenty thus far. But looking back at the last 15 months, I think I have done some good things too. I, along with tons of help from Paul, our parents, our friends and other family, have managed to keep her fed, mostly healthy, clean and pretty darn happy, or so it seems.
She is thriving, actually. She is in the 80th percentile for weight – girlfriend loves food. Obviously she would love food. Of course, because she is my daughter, I think she is extremely advanced. She is probably right on par educationally, but hey, I think she walks on water.
When we first brought Lucy home, I was absolutely shocked at how cool it was to be her mom. I had no clue especially about the coolness of motherhood that was to come. Set aside the nights with less-than-ideal amounts of sleep. Forget the cries, the frustrating days & nights when she would not sleep, and the one billionth dirty diaper. It is so crazy how all of that just melts away when she says “Mama!”, “Dada!” or “Alright!” or “Hi kitty!” and then you end up in a pile of mush on the kitchen floor.
I think that I had put so much weight in preparing for the actual act of giving birth, and preparing for her arrival, that I completely and totally overlooked really imaging what life would be like when we got to bring our babe home from the hospital. I just simply hadn’t made it that far in my mind. And when I got there, the overwhelming joy I experienced plowed me over. I just had no idea what was to come.
In the last 15 months I have experienced every single emotion & feeling in the books. It’s been hard. It’s been fun. It’s been rewarding. It’s been frustrating. There have been tears. Oh, the tears. There have been smiles and laughs and everything else in between and I would (and hopefully will) do it all over again, just to be able to have a tiny person smiling back at me.
Several months ago, Paul started saying “big love” (while patting his chest) as a way to describe the love he felt for her. It has become somewhat of a thing in our house and a few months ago, Lucille started repeating it back to us. Over this past weekend, I asked her if she could say “love” and she shook her head no. I asked her how she says love, and she immediately patted her chest. Cue big ugly tears rolling from this mama’s eyes.
It has brought the most unimaginable joy to watch her learn. It seems like every day she is saying new words, new animal sounds, learning new body parts. And she seems to become more joyful every single day. She is constantly on the move, but lately if I say, “Lucy, can you smile at Mama?”, she will stop and give me the biggest cheesy grin.
So after my 15-month introduction to motherhood, here are a few notes-to-self, affirmations and encouragements:
- “Mom brain” is real. Cut yourself some slack when you can’t remember if you brushed your teeth today or if you are thinking of yesterday. Sometimes I walk around the house in circles because by the time I get to where I am going, I have forgotten why I was going there in the first place.
- A messy house doesn’t mean anything to anyone when there is a happy, smiling child inside.
- You just do the best you can, everyday. No one is out there being the perfect mom.
- I need people on my side. I cannot do everything all alone.
- It is possible to be a mom and have a career.
- Motherhood is the mother of optimism, possibility, yoga pants, “fly by the seat of your pants”, and Goldfish crackers.
- It’s OK to not remember the last time the sheets and towels were washed – oops.
- Battle your inner perfectionist; try to ignore inner and external critics; accept imperfection as perfection.
- Being a mother means always being “in progress”; it’s a marathon, not a sprint, and there really isn’t ever a finish line.
- Mental limitations are OK – take time for yourself, and be patient with yourself and with those around you.
- Just because there are some moments of motherhood I don’t love does not make me a bad mom, or make me not love being a mother.