The year was 2012 and I was about to give birth to my first child. I had never felt so much joy, yet sheer terror at the same time! As the day of my due date approached, I became consumed by more than organizing and decorating the baby's room; my mind traveled through the journey of giving birth, breast feeding, raising a toddler, a teen and sending my unborn daughter off to college! Whew!
On August 2, 2012 at 9:01pm, my husband and I welcomed our daughter into the world. I know it sounds so cliche, but there were no words to describe that magical moment when I held our baby girl for the first time. Those first few days weren't as scary as I thought they would be. Yep, all was well in the world until we had to leave the nurses and go home. You mean the nurses don't get to live with you for a year to help you adjust to parenting? Who knew?!
On the outside, I had it all together. After all, I was an elementary school teacher. Children love me, I love them and this is my child! Oh, but how I felt inside was a totally different story...
In the beginning of motherhood, I was so afraid of getting it wrong. You see, I had phenomenal women (my mother and two grandmothers) who modeled the journey of motherhood with the grace and love of angels. While it was comforting to have such powerful role models, it also made me feel like I just wouldn't be able to live up to the standard they had set before me.
This otherwise confident woman tried to compensate for her insecurities by doing everything by the books, and I had lots of them floating around the house! I made sure my daughter was loved and well cared for. I read to her, played with her, took her to the park, but I did forget to do one thing for the first 11 or 12 months of her life. I forgot to feel.
Part of the reason for this was that my beloved grandmother suddenly passed away whenever my daughter was 5 months old. The pain I experienced was so deep, so profound that I went completely numb for quite a while. Don't get me wrong; I was a strong presence in my daughter's life, showering her with love and affection. But I did not take the time to let those precious moments sink deep down on the inside of my spirit, leaving an imprint of pure joy on my soul and in my heart. I was so worried about taking care of her needs that I neglected to notice how she was taking care of mine.
But something crazy happened. I got pregnant 13 months after our first daughter was born. This pleasant surprise created a shift in my spirit. That's a fancy way of saying, once I got pregnant with baby #2 while caring for a toddler, all "schedules" and "routines" and any type of robotic behavior got thrown out the window! Not to mention I became unemployed in the middle of this craziness! It was WONDERFUL! There was nothing left to do but feel! There was no job occupying my time. My body was defying gravity. Some days I could barely put one foot in front of the other. Oh how those were some of the best days in my life! There were moments when all I did was look into my daughter's eyes, exchanging loving glances and warm smiles at each other. This is where I really began to experience what it was like to be a mother.
On May 20, 2014 at 1:01pm our second bundle of joy made her grand entrance into the world. Mom and Dad were much more confident and relaxed this time around. We knew the drill. In fact, when it came time to leave the hospital and go home, we didn't look at each other like deer caught in headlights. Instead we eagerly gathered our belongings and went home with great excitement and anticipation of what our new life would bring.
Those first few weeks were simply INSANE, and I must admit life is still absolutely crazy, but WONDERFUL too! Jill Churchill once said, "There is no perfect way to be a mother, and a million ways to be a good one." So let's STOP trying to be perfect! Instead, I encourage you to keep it real and don't forget to feel! Be present, I mean really present. You will soon discover some of the most magical moments you will ever experience on this earth! Actively make the choice to be you, and let your children bring you as much as you bring them. It's not selfish. That's love! You deserve it as much as they do!