Even if I’m setting myself up for failure, I think it’s worth trying to be a mother who delights in who her children are, in their knock-knock jokes and earnest questions. A mother who spends less time obsessing about what will happen, or what has happened, and more time reveling in what is. A mother who doesn’t fret over failings and slights, who realizes her worries and anxieties are just thoughts, the continuous chattering and judgement of a too busy mind. A mother who doesn’t worry so much about being bad or good but just recognizes that she’s both, and neither. A mother who does her best, and for whom that is good enough, even if, in the end, her best turns out to be, simply, not bad.
― Ayelet Waldman, Bad Mother: A Chronicle of Maternal Crimes, Minor Calamities, and Occasional Moments of Grace
I had my first Mother’s Day this past Sunday. Last time this year I was a few weeks away from my due date and it amazes me when I consider how much has happened this past year and how much I learned. Time has flown by….flown. I know that’s the biggest cliche thing to say when you become a parent. I remember when I was pregnant, everyone with older children shaking their finger in my face saying “Just you wait…you are going to blink and he’ll be 18!”. But it’s so true. I blinked and my baby is almost one and I celebrated my first Mother’s Day, and almost my first year of being a Mother.
There are so many things this year taught me about myself. There were moments I wondered if I was cut out to raise a baby. Moments where I wanted to scream (and maybe let out a scream or two), moments I cried and doubted and struggled. My baby was a relatively easy one. No colic, no sickness, sleeping through the night at 4 months, travels well, teething was a breeze… and sometimes I feel guilty about that. Sometimes I feel inadequate, because I still struggled taking care of him and allowing him to depend entirely on me. I still felt exhausted and drained and at the end of my rope. In the back of my mind I wondered if I was weak, when Finley was taking it so easy on me. But looking back, maybe I was actually doing something right? I know for sure, I received a lot of grace.
There are few times in my life I have looked back on a long strenuous process and patted myself on the back for accomplishing something great. But when I look back on this year, and look through these pictures of myself holding my 11 and a half month old, it’s difficult not to get emotional. I survived, I made it through my first year of motherhood, and I think I did a pretty good job. There were some really really good days, and there were some really really bad days, but most of the days were just spent finding my rhythm in this new role, and learning and growing right alongside my little guy.
I learned endurance, like I never have before. Reaching within yourself to wipe away tears, change a diaper, clean up a mess, when you already feel like you are beyond your limit. You can’t just give up. Copping out is not an option when you’re a Mom.
I learned that my ability to multi-task is only maximized by motherhood. Can you change a diaper while on a client call, while dinner is bubbling on the stove and you are frantically trying to pick up your house before guests come over for dinner? Can you hold a wiggling baby while you….get the mail, sign for a package, do a load a laundry, make a batch of cookies, or text a lengthy message to a friend? I’ve learned that taking care of myself is essential to my sanity. An afternoon spent alone in a book store or an evening out with friends is more restorative than it’s ever been. I’ve never enjoyed running more, now that I’m a Mom. And I can’t survive a day without a piece of chocolate or a sweet, and that’s perfectly fine with me.
When I look at these pictures, taken in our backyard on Mother’s Day, I feel really proud of myself in a way I have never felt before. I might not be the most put together person, the best dresser, the most creative artist, the most saavy business woman, the hippest blogger, the fittest runner, the most knowledgeable contributor to conversations…
There’s a baby in my arms who is not only clean, fed, and clothed, but he’s happy and healthy and unbelievably loved. That’s a big deal. I did that. One of the most important lessons I learned this year was that while I have proved to be capable to care for my kid, I couldn’t have done it without giving up some control and depending on those around me. To celebrate Mother’s Day, I went out to see Les Miserables, and to dinner with 4 women, my Grandmother, my Mother, my Aunt, and my Sister. Women who have all played a role in supporting my first year as a Mom, and giving of themselves to provide for Finley’s happiness in different ways. My in-laws, my other relatives, my close friends, and of course, John, have all played huge parts in helping me be the best Mom I can be to Finley and enabling me to care for him. I’m so grateful.
While I learned so much about my own abilities and strengths this year, the most important thing Motherhood taught me was to truly show me how incredibly blessed I am, by those who surround me, and by the beautiful baby in my arms.
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Thanks to John for taking these photos! xo