The Definition of Motherhood
When I think of the word Motherhood the first few words that come to mind are Love, Strength, Purpose, Sacrifice, Amazing, Stressful, and Emotional. There is no one definition; rather it is an accumulation of many things. Motherhood has been the most rewarding yet challenging experience I’ve been faced with. When I became a mom, it was such a joyous moment. I still remember it vividly. Micah was frank breech, resulting in a cesarean, so the first thing I saw was his squishy little hiney! The feeling of accomplishment filled my body. I remember thanking God for him being healthy and then saying out loud with a big smile while tears ran down my face “I did it. I did it.”
Motherhood can make us feel powerful and unstoppable, but it can also leave us feeling lost and inadequate. It leaves us constantly questioning ourselves:
Do I breastfeed, exclusively pump, or formula feed?
Do I let my baby cry it out or do I prefer attachment style parenting?
Early Motherhood can feel like a guessing game of learning your baby’s cues and cries. Is it colic…a tongue tie…a poor latch? The list goes on and on.
When we ask ourselves what Motherhood means to us, we will all have different answers. And you know what? That’s OKAY! All of our answers will be different because our journeys are different! One thing I have heard time and time again is that the first year of Motherhood is the hardest, and boy, do I believe it! The long nights and early mornings, the sudden change of no longer putting yourself first, the realization that, for the first year, you barely have time for yourself (and if you have one, your significant other); it’s all so much!
Whether you want to hear this or not, there will be a point in time where you will make a mistake. We ALL make mistakes. No one gives birth to a baby and immediately knows how to do this mom thing. It would be crazy if we did. For me, the first year of Motherhood was a lot of trial and error.
Growth and transformation
From a little zygote to becoming a legit human being the speed our children grow is absolutely remarkable. And it always seems like just when we’ve figured out one thing, something else pops up that leaves us thinking to ourselves, “How on earth do I solve this?”
A conversation I had with myself a while back: “Oh yay, Micah is finally sitting up and no longer needs to be burped for 30 minutes after every feeding!
Five seconds later: “Oh great, now that he’s sitting up he’s now falling over and smacking his head on the floor.” What joy!
It can feel like there’s constantly a new struggle we are being faced with, but guess what? Over time, I’ve learned that I get better and better at solving each new challenge that comes my way. I’ve come to realize that everything is a phase, which has been giving me solace recently since I’m still picking up the sippy cup Micah has thrown from his highchair 100 times a day.
And let’s talk about the changes our bodies go through! If you’re like me, then you probably didn’t appreciate your old body before you had your child(ren). To think that I thought I was “fat” back in college. Good lord, I would give anything to be that kind of fat again, LOL! I have to constantly remind myself of what my body went through. A positive body image can be a real battle for people. Young children pick up on words like “diet” and they notice when we talk negatively about ourselves.
I never want Micah or my future children to ever doubt themselves. I want them to know there is so much more to them than just how they look on the outside. I want him to know that daddy loves mommy for who she is, throughout her body changes. I really try my hardest to focus on positive affirmations and self-love.
Motherhood tests us. Every. Single. Day.
A peaceful long shower, where you actually have enough time to wash your hair AND shave seems like a distant memory.
Using the bathroom by yourself, who does that?! I can’t remember the last time I was able to use the bathroom with the door shut. Sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever have privacy again.
Simple tasks can seem daunting. Loading and unloading the dishwasher only happens when he’s in his highchair; folding laundry only after I put him to bed. I’ve become really good at eating standing up and have gotten used to drinking lukewarm coffee.
Beauty. Its Fears. Sweat and Tears.
Motherhood is beautiful, but anxiety-provoking at the same time. It’s a new love that we have never experienced. It’s so different than the love we have for our spouses, parents, or siblings. For instance, this morning I spent a solid 30 minutes debating on whether I wanted to purchase an $80 de-choking device because God forbid Micah may need it one day. Or what if he were to slip and fall into a pool? Or someone wanted to take him from me? These scary, intrusive thoughts that arise are SO unpleasant, but as a caring parent, they are totally normal.
When these feelings arise in Robert and me, we try not to visualize it too much. We just try to mitigate anything that could potentially happen, hence the baby gates EVERYWHERE. Our motherly instincts and Mama Bear tendencies are here to stay. Being a cautious parent means you are a great parent, and while these intrusive thoughts are unpleasant, we have to learn how to manage them without letting it consume us.
Lately, I’ve been asking myself who I am other than a wife and mom. What things am I passionate about? What will my life look like 5 years from now? What things do I want to accomplish in life? I still don’t have all of the answers, but the fact that I am even thinking about these things has definitely got my wheels turning.
Before Motherhood, I could say, “I am a Program Director at a Medical School.” Now I say, “I stay home.” Motherhood can leave us feeling like our life only revolves around changing diapers and household chores and can make us long for something more. It can be easy to forget who we were before we had our children. I am more than just Micah’s mom. I am Jacqueline. I have hobbies and things I find interesting. I may be in full-on mom mode from 7:30 am-7:30 pm every day, but that is not the only thing that defines me, you know?
When I reflect on the past year, I’m really proud of how far I have come. Finally, 12 months after giving birth, I am now feeling like myself again and starting to recognize the woman I see when I look in the mirror. I’m thankful for the process of rediscovering who I am. For setting time aside to try new hobbies and things that find fuel my passion. Every mom has their own journey to Motherhood. While you are on your Motherhood journey please remember to be patient with yourself as your life unfolds. For so many Motherhood is one of the most precious experiences we will have the opportunity to experience. Embrace it. Relish in it. Feel all the feels. And continue being the kick-ass mama I know you are!