When I got engaged in 2007, my relationship was far from perfect. I knew it never would be, and I had zero delusions about “fixing” him, or making everything better through marriage. In fact, I knew any issues we had would likely get worse, rather than better.
I sat at the kitchen table of my third story condo, and we discussed some important elements that were missing in our relationship. I knew there was no way I’d be able to live without those things, and I told him then and there that if he couldn’t make changes, we’d certainly be filing for divorce in the future. It was never what I wanted, but I was realistic about my needs.
In 2011 my first baby was born, a life-long dream finally fulfilled. All I ever wanted was to be a mother. It was the kind of longing one cannot deny, just as I needed to breathe, so too did I need to be a mother.
And when that sweet baby boy came into my life, motherhood brought all the joy and love I always knew it would.
I did not know his birth would bring post traumatic stress and post-partum anxiety.
I didn’t think I’d be too nervous to leave him one room away while I showered.
I did not know his father would be working 2 jobs and not be available to help with the parenting during those formative, early months.
I did not know nursing would require my full energy and mental focus, morning, noon, and night….and night again, and again, and again… nearly every hour on the hour.
I did not know I would have a baby boy SO bright and alert, and so deeply connected to his mama, that he would never, ever nap for the first 6 months of his life, preferring instead to be gazing at my face while I talked to him, read to him, and entertained his little mind all day long.
I did not know that I would be trapped at home alone for months, because my baby would cry every time I tried to put him in a stroller, or a car seat.
Those days were hard. It’s easy to laugh over it now, because it was years ago, but in that moment, I felt like it would never end. I remember looking into those big, blue, curious, WIDE AWAKE eyes, and thinking, “Wow. This motherhood thing. It’s for life. It REALLY is. The me that I was is gone. Now and forever, I will always be somebody’s mother. I can stop being a wife. If it gets too overwhelming, or too painful, I can always walk away. But I can’t stop being a mother. There’s no divorcing my baby. There’s no getting away, no matter how painful it gets.”
It passed through me for only a moment, and I haven’t had that intensity of emotion since (even after adding two daughters in two years), but I still remember it clear as day. In that moment I understood why parents sometimes walk away. I could never comprehend it before that - not just yoking yourself into being a parent forever, but being the 24/7 parent to such a helpless little creature who can’t do anything for themselves…
I often wonder what would happen if we talked about parenthood more honestly? Could we better comprehend how much of commitment it really is?
Maybe if we all knew going in that there would be moments we felt broken, and inadequate, and ready to throw in the towel, maybe then we would be less overcome with the guilt that comes along with those feelings.
Because hey, motherhood is awesome!
There are days I am LITERALLY frolicking through fields of flowers and chasing down baby turtles with my baby humans. For real. Those days are INcredible!
But there are also days they're all crying, and I'm done being Mary Poppins, and I want to leave the house, but I can't. So sometimes I sit and cry with them, and we hug each other, and we promise each other tomorrow will be a better day.
And you know what?
That's OK too.