The Biggest Change of All

 

Me with newborn Aliyah. My sweet little babe who taught me how to be a mom.

Me with newborn Aliyah in March 2007. My sweet little babe who taught me how to be a mom.

For a while now I’ve had thoughts swirling around my head that I haven’t been able to put to writing. I may be a little late in writing this, since I have been a mom for almost 6 years now, but yes, I am talking about motherhood.

Those early days as a first time mom have been fresh in my mind since having Kaylin almost 4 months ago. Even with my third I still face challenges, but the perspective I have gained makes things a lot easier to handle. With a 4 month old, a three year old and an almost 6 year old, you would think this would be the most challenging part of motherhood thus far, but I have to say, the transition to first time mom takes the cake. Having to balance life at home with three kids is somewhat of a juggling act (of which I often drop the ball). I have days where things are so chaotic that I feel like locking myself in the bathroom for a little time out, or I have to pack up the kids and go for a drive, just to gain a little headspace while they are all strapped in the back.

All this to say, that even though having three kids is busier, more demanding and requires more hands on work, the transition from being a married adult, into being a first time mom was the hardest of all. I know many of you can relate to this.  With your first child, you cross a precipice into new territory and you are changed forever. With the birth of your squirming little bundle, you experience instant change. The world in which you grew up suddenly looks a little different and you start to see things through the “parent’ lens.  Society expects you to adapt perfectly, and if you are feeling anything other than pure elation, there must be something wrong with you, right?

When I had Aliyah I was 23 years old– a very young mom by today’s standards. And in some ways ill equipped.  It’s not that I didn’t know how to take care of a baby; it was more that I didn’t quite understand the scope of how much things would change. During my pregnancy I thought very little about the ways in which I would have to adapt my life. Instead I thought about the love for I had for my baby, my excitement to bring her home and start life as a mom. I didn’t really consider the sleep deprivation, and at times, the loneliness that I would feel.

What followed was a bit of a shocker. I went from being a student, working part time and spending my evenings hanging out with friends and with my husband, to being a full time stay at home mom…spending my evenings rocking, singing to sleep, soothing and generally nursing around the clock. We did a lot of nursing in those first few months, and that is an understatement!

I can still remember the raw emotion of those early weeks–looking at my new little baby with such wonder and amazement; marveling at every little feature and every little sound. It was an amazing time in my life, full of so much joy and excitement, but at the same time so much change and sacrifice.

Fast-forward a few months into motherhood… I was exhausted and felt emotionally/physically and mentally drained a lot of the time from being home alone with a baby. On the one hand I would feel totally enamored with my baby, and then an instant later have more negative feelings for all the ways my life had to change, and the freedom I no longer had. Then I would feel instantly guilty for having negative feelings. It’s a crazy dance that I think a lot of new moms go through. And all the post partum hormones don’t help either.

IT’S NORMAL!

I felt so guilty at the time for being anything less than thrilled, but I see now that It was not a reflection of me as a mother, just the growing pains of having to adapt to a completely different lifestyle. A lifestyle that required me to be unselfish and give more of myself than I thought I had at the time.

Don’t get me wrong, I still loved being a mom, but change is always uncomfortable, and it took me a while to find my groove. I missed my friends and I missed being a student. I missed being able to come and go as I pleased, without having a tiny tyrant dictating my every move. I was also the first one of my friends to have kids, and I felt isolated because I had moved into a realm that they had not yet entered and couldn’t understand.  At the time, it felt like things would never go back to “normal”, but they do. It may not be the normal you are used to. It’s a new normal; one that will require a lot of sacrifice but also pays you back in the currency of pure love. You also get to witness the beauty of perfect innocence!

Having been a mother now for almost 6 years, I have gained some perspective.  Already Kaylin is out of the newborn stage. She is smiling and giggling and engaging with everyone around her, and I am filled with an overwhelming sense of how fleeting these moments are. I wish I had known that when I had my first. I would have spent less time reading baby sleep books, and more time enjoying her while she was awake. Don’t get me wrong, sleep deprivation can be a serious issue for new moms, but I think I made it worse by all my fretting and my preoccupation with trying to get her to sleep through the night.  This stage goes by so fast, and even though it can be wearying beyond belief, I know that I will look back someday with fondness and a bittersweet ache in my heart.

A couple of weeks ago I was running errands around town with Kaylin. I got into the elevator at the mall with two elderly women, probably in their late 70’s.  They were beaming at Kaylin with such amazement, and one of them casually said, ‘How I wish we could have our day back.’ In that instant I realized something so important. Right now is my day. I am smack dab in the middle of what these older women remember as the sweetest time in their life.  I am done with trying to rush my kids on to the next stage all the time. I am so thankful to these women for giving me that “Aha” moment.