Just a little over a month ago, my son turned one year old and I completed the marathon of what is the first year of motherhood. There are so many things I learned and am still learning.
1) Identity is not Rooted in “Doing”
Smack dab in the middle of my pregnancy, I had a total meltdown as I contemplated life as a part-time mom. For so long, I had this narrow idea of what a life of significance and impact looked like. I only equated it to a successful career and all that I had accomplished. My life had become a performance act.
With the birth of my son, I continued to struggle. On bad days, when he just wouldn’t stop crying, I blamed myself. There were, and always will be, so many opportunities to label myself as a failure. But, failure only comes from comparing ourselves to someone else’s bigger picture.
We compare our lives to the ones on social media—doing what we can to achieve all that we see. It is as if acquisition of the next big thing, for ourselves or our child, is the validation that we need to prove to ourselves that we are enough. It’s not. It will always be inconsistent, rife with opinions, and biased. I stopped focusing on what others were doing, and even on what I was doing, to sit in the satisfaction that as a person, as a mother, and as wife – I am enough.
2) Finding Time for Yourself is Equally as Important as Time with Your Spouse
There are moments when I am desperate for alone time—for space away from the needs, the wants, and the to-do’s of the everyday. And in my opinion, self-care like this is healthy and necessary for every mom.
Whether it is eating a bowl of ice cream at the end of the night or getting away to Target to peruse all the aisles—finding something for you, and only you, makes a significant shift in your ultimate well-being. But what we tend to neglect, and assume will thrive without care, is our relationship with our spouse. It’s simply not that easy. Our marriages require intention and their own spaces within the hustle and bustle of our lives. For me, when my husband and I sit down and connect, its’ not just about us—our time together is vital to our whole family. We are teammates. Without our daily huddles, there is simply no way we could win the proverbial parenthood game.
3) Good Parenting is not about Control
My son’s first three months weren’t exactly easy. We started out with jaundice and ended up with an oxygen tank. And though these things aren’t uncommon to newborns, they are still pretty scary for first-time parents.
In the meantime, my husband and I were also trying to learn about every cough and sound that our baby was making—sometimes googling concerns or just giving in and pestering the on-call pediatrician. It seemed that in the midst of all the happiness and exhaustion, there was a special place for worry and its friend, fear. Worry tends to give a false sense of control, doesn’t it? We think we are doing something, when we aren’t doing anything at all.
Finally, my husband and I looked at each other and said, “Enough!” Raising a child is preparing them (and us) for the day in which they can go out into the world and make their own way—to thrive. Thus, parenting really has nothing to do with control and everything to do with the process of letting go. Our babies won’t be in our homes forever—but that is part of our mission isn’t it?
I wasn’t quite prepared for the changes that would take place in myself, never mind dealing with the monthly, and sometimes daily, transformations of my son. Regardless, who I am today is very different than the woman who delivered a 5 pound 13 ounce baby a year ago. In my opinion, that’s the great thing about motherhood—we get to change alongside our children.
Photo Courtesy of Annie Welch Photography