|Me, the early years.|
Seven years ago this week, I became a mother. No one tells you that when your baby is born, you are reborn as well. That person you were, even as you laid on the table, is no longer there. She gets thrown out with the placenta, and a new person emerges. She looks like your former self, and she has the same mannerisms, but she is just as much a newborn as the baby in her arms.
Motherhood didn't instantly take for me. I wasn't a natural. I spent two nights in the hospital struggling with something called a "latch" and a baby with hiccups. Two nights before I gave in and did the cardinal sin of mothers everywhere. I gave my baby formula. Just enough so they would let us go home. Because it's all that I wanted. Until I was home and then all I wanted to do was leave.
The "Latch" never happened. My baby took a bottle after two full weeks of trying in vain to breastfeed. Exhausted and defeated, I surrendered to the bottle and the guilt that followed. Then I realized that my baby wouldn't sleep without me, and I gave into that too, because if I didn't I was sure the exhaustion would kill me. And then soon I was a walking zombie. I was lost in a fog of failed milestones, failed attempts, and overwhelming guilt.
I counted days and weeks. Months and milestones. Because everyone said the older she got the happier we would all be. Once she is x months she will do y and you can do z (as in sleep). But the more I counted the harder it got, and soon, easy was no longer a word in my vocabulary. I had a feeling that we would never get to the other side of the mountain, where babies slept and took bottles and ate food and napped and for the love of God didn't cry for hours on end.
And we got there. Some how, we got there. We made it to here, seven years later. Even now, it's hard for me to believe.
At some point in during that first year, I told my best friend, "I wasn't built for this shit", this "shit", being motherhood. I've never said a truer statement. I wasn't built for motherhood. I wasn't build for selflessness. I wasn't built for patience. I wasn't built for exhaustion. I wasn't built for this shit.
Luckily, motherhood has built me.
You don't survive a year where everything is dark and dismal, with a small human who has decided all the rules of nature do not apply to her, without becoming a brand new version of yourself. Motherhood has made me hopeful. Motherhood has made me grateful. Most importantly, motherhood has made me brave. It's made me love myself, despite my flaws, because of my flaws. Motherhood has finally allowed me to accept myself. Motherhood gave me the one thing I had always been looking for, confidence.
I wouldn't be able to write this blog if it wasn't for motherhood. And not just because I write about motherhood, but because I found confidence to write in general. I found confidence to tell the truth about myself and my life. Even the things I'm horrible at, even the things that I fail. I would have never been able to admit any type of defeat before becoming a mother. I was a type A, first class, overachiever. When I was in school any grade less than a "B" was devastating. For the first three years post college, any job or internship I applied for, I got. I was the Vice President of my Sorority, and the year I was in charge of recruitment, my sorority got quota plus. I was also the first person to graduate from college in my family. In a nutshell, I was a kick ass woman of my generation.
Then I had a baby and my world imploded. There is no perfection in motherhood. Motherhood is an exercise in defeat and survival. Everyday is a new day, yet every day also seems like the same day. When I was exhausted, in yesterday's yoga pants, three days past a shower, it didn't matter that I had a college degree or if I was a CEO. In my mind, because I couldn't breast feed or get my child to sleep through the night, I was the biggest failure of my generation. Until I realized that I wasn't the only one struggling in my generation.
It's been seven years, and three of those have been spent writing this blog. Letting you know the guts of this life I love and cherish. If you have been here since the beginning, then you know it's not always wine and roses. Hell, it's rarely Franzia and carnations, but I love it anyway. In the last seven years, I've learned that my happiness is more important than the rules in some book, the standards of my neighbors, or what some celebrity decides is a motherhood standard. I've learned that my way is the right way, no matter what my friends are doing, no matter if they roll their eyes. I've learned that we don't need a summer solstice party, a summer bucket list, or a fancy advent Christmas calendar. I've learned that for all the baby food I make from scratch that kid is one day going to eat Cheetos off the sidewalk and drink after the dog. I've learned that for every single time I yell, lose my temper, and want to run away, my kids love me anyway. They still want me. They still love me. Because I'm their mother, and that is a powerful thing.
And it's because of all of those reasons that motherhood has built me. That it continues to build me. One imperfect block at a time.