Last month I shared my story about becoming a mother for the first time. In that post I focused on the drastic life changes that started with the day that my daughter was born. Fast forward from the day, I am still in awe that a year has just flown by. To be honest I see a lot of physical changes easily noticeable on my daughter, she is walking now, almost outgrowing my lap, recognizing and discovering the world around her. I on the other hand, the physical change is only observable in the amount of post baby weight that I am yet to shake off and the very visible bags below my eyes from a year worthy of sleep deprivation. Motherhood is an adventurous journey that I am privileged to be just at the beginning. The biggest change on my case however has been on the inside, the life lessons drawn from my experience of being a mother for the past year. There are many more lessons that I have learned but I have gathered a few major lessons from my first year of motherhood.
- Giving birth is the tip of the iceberg.
When I was pregnant, my focus was on preparing for the arrival. The hospital bag, the coming home outfit, the debate between epidural vs no epidural, the color to paint my baby’s room… Little though was given, at least in my case, about the life changes to expect after that day. What will I want to instill in my child? How will my body change both physically, physiologically and mentally? These are the areas that are to be given a little more attention when preparing to become a mother. It is beneficial in the long run to research and to stay informed on every one of the changes that are to come in a woman’s life after giving birth.
- Trust in the power of motherhood.
The reality of life is, motherhood is terrifying. First of all, I still can’t fathom how a human being grew inside of me. The birthing experience is still a miraculous moment in my mind no matter how simple everyone else may view it. The first months of motherhood are full of uncertainty, discouragement, and fear and to some of us it brings so many questions. How am I going to bathe the baby for the first time? Is he/she still breathing? Did I put too many clothes on her? Is she overheating? Hypothermic? But what is colic? What will I do if the house catches on fire? (Yes I spent sleepless nights plotting the escape routes). To keep a story short, the anxiety in the first year of motherhood is real. There is an unexplainable power that a woman gains from becoming a mother. Your protective instinct goes through the roof yes but trust me you are equipped with what is necessary to make it through the first days of motherhood. My advice is to trust in yourself, learn what you can, do your best, try not to freak out and slowly the confidence in yourself as a mother, a person that God/the universe/ nature has chosen to entrust with a new life will start to grow.
- Your dreams and goals may take a sudden turn.
Remember when all your goals and dreams used to be so personal well now they dual or triple or octo focused goals. What I mean by that is every goal and dream from now on includes another person or two or three depending on how many children you have. That little human is included in every aspect of your life, in every decision making she/he will be. It is a little hard to embrace at times but at some point you learn how to think and live for two. If you are anything like me and have always been driven and goal oriented, this can require a little bit of readjustment and self-rediscovery. It is very important to be honest with your present self, tailor your dreams and goal to the new you, the mother you. Is that promotion going to satisfy most of your current needs as a mother and a professional? Will that dream forever house cater to both yours and your child’s needs? A very big part of motherhood requires a balance of creativity, adjustment and sacrifices in many aspects of a woman’s life.
- Nurture the habits you want to incorporate in your child’s life.
What I mean by this is that some of the habits and traits we want to incorporate in our child’s life were not part of our life before motherhood. A personal example for me was going to the park, I rarely went and whenever I went to the park before, I would run or hike on my path and be in and out in minutes. Now that I have a little one whom I wish to instill the love and appreciation of outdoors my park trips are getting frequent and longer. Whatever you are trying to incorporate in their habits, you will have to learn to include it in your routines. This will help you get accustomed to the routine and help both of you enjoy the new activity. The hard part about this though is that your schedule was full even prior to having a child, now it is literally overflowing, you need more than 24 hours to fit in your mommy routines. What works for me is to prioritize and squeeze every second out of the day. I know I am working around nap schedule, work deadline, daily obligations and it can be overwhelming at time but it is true that if you really value something you will somehow find time for it.
- Be in the moment (they grow up very fast.)
This one may sound like something you hear every day but seriously they do grow up so fast. With all the changes that are happening in your life, it can get very hard to take in every moment. You are learning about what to expect and worrying when they will hit the next milestone. You are also wondering if you are doing everything right and this and that, sometimes time can pass by so fast. Learn to absorb each moment and enjoy it with your child, experience moments together. Learning how to let loose on some activities, how to make peace with the dishes filling up the sink and how to ignore the pile of toys you keep tripping on is going to help you focus on what is important in the first year of a child’s life; and that is your full attention, your time and physical contact.
I have learned so much in my first year of motherhood, I have grown as an individual and I have accumulated valuable information from my experience that I can’t possibly write about all of them all. I am sure that there are more lessons to be shared from your own experience and your point of view as a mother. I believe that experience teaches more than anything and no one call tell your story better than you, your input below is highly valued.