April 10, 2018

thoughts on motherhood...

motherhood | yourwishcake.com
I don't think anyone can be fully prepared for motherhood at all, let alone the changes that come from adding another (and another) child to your family. I sometimes think back to when I had my first daughter and my whole life changed completely and I felt like all I did was live and breathe this tiny little baby all the live-long day. Now, as a mother of three, I look back on those days with a certain fondness because goodness. I didn't know how much free time I had. And how easy it actually was back then.

Ah, yes. Hindsight is a tricky thing. (I have a feeling I'll be thinking the same sorts of things when I have a house full of teenage girls. But I digress.)

This time around, I struggled a lot with postpartum emotions after the baby was born. I honestly didn't experience any sort of baby blues after my first two girls were born. I had a 6+ hour ugly-cry in the hospital a couple days after Eisley was born, and I definitely battled a bit of postpartum anxiety when she was a couple months old, but nothing akin to baby blues. It was even easier with Cora. But this time? It was hard. 

A couple weeks after Verity was born, I had a day that I basically cried all day long. I probably didn't look like I was crying (because I was so afraid of stressing out my older two kids) but it was definitely silent-tears-streaming-down-my-face, on the cusp of bawling my head off from the moment I woke up until I went to bed. It all felt like too much. And I felt like I was failing everybody. And even thinking about how I was failing everybody made me feel guilty. I was so grateful that my husband was able to take five weeks of paternity leave, and he'd take the older girls on all these adventures so I could have the house to myself and nap with the baby. But as it turned out, I didn't nap, and I cleaned a lot because I felt like I didn't deserve to nap because there was so much that needed to get done. (I really couldn't win.)

I am thankful it didn't last long, and I returned to my regular self after about a month. But having experienced my head telling me things that absolutely weren't true was a very sobering thing. I have much more empathy now for women who continue to struggle beyond those wildly hormonal and emotional first weeks with a new baby. When you know what you're thinking isn't accurate, but you keep thinking it anyway, it kind of does a number on you.

I am a terrible mom. No, I'm not. I am not giving enough to my other two children, now that there is a baby that needs me constantly. Yes, I am giving them enough, and they know they are loved. I'm failing literally everybody. That's actually not possible when you think about it. I need to take care of everything; there is no time to rest. Just allow yourself to sit on the couch for a half-hour and eat three cookies and let the floors get dusty...it'll be fine, I swear. I'm all alone and nobody understands what this feels like. Oh, self, now you know this one is absolutely untrue.

At this point, nearly three months in, the dust has long settled and my husband has been back at work (traveling periodically, nonetheless) and things feel remarkably okay. More than okay. Now, things actually feel easier than I thought they would this early on. Now, I feel our routine is back and I can breathe again. It has been interesting, though...parenting three very different children at three very different ages and stages. 

Eisley is several months away from turning 7 and is an absolute delight, but also extremely challenging right now. I had no idea that 6 1/2 was such a difficult age until I mentioned it to some friends and they were all, "Yeeeeeah. It's rough." (It reminds me of how 3 1/2 was so unexpectedly difficult with her and I thought I was the only one, until I finally admitted how hard it was and, again, everyone was all. "Yeeeeeah. It's the worst.") She is so imaginative and creative and enthusiastic. Her emotional highs are just as intense as her lows, and it's impressive how quickly she can go from one extreme to another. (I have no idea where she gets this from. EXCEPT THAT I DO.) For the last couple months, her impulse control has gone out the window and it seems like all day long I am repeating the following words: "Eisley! You know you shouldn't do that!" All day. I kid you not. But she is also incredibly sensitive right now. She feels things very strongly. She's learning a lot about being a friend and what it feels like to be rejected or accepted, and how to work through new experiences that don't always feel so good.

So, like tonight, I sometimes let her stay up late to try a new recipe for mug cake and read an extra chapter of Harry Potter aloud and ask her questions about her day. Things that make her feel seen and loved and important.

Cora is a fireball at 2 1/2. What can I even say about this girl? She recently started having conversations with imaginary friends, and the other day I asked who she was talking to and she shrugged and said, "My friends, Lala and Gaga." Like I should have known. Several months ago, she realized she didn't have to take orders from Eisley and things have been a bit of a battle ever since. She is definitely a little sneaky, but luckily she gives me this very recognizable look when she's headed off to do something she shouldn't, so I'm usually able to figure things out pretty quickly. (Or when she's gone upstairs and it's been super quiet for a while, I know she has crawled onto the top bunk and is quietly raiding Eisley's basket of off-limit toys.) I have yet to figure out a way of disciplining her that works, as she is the child who thinks it's hilarious when I'm angry and using my Very Serious Angry Mom Voice. She literally giggles like it's the best game of her life. And then I end up hauling her flailing, giggling, stubborn-toddler body upstairs for time-out in a way that would make gentle parenting advocates judge me with their judging eyes.

But then there are days, like today, when she wakes up in the morning, and I go to greet her, telling her that we're having chocolate chip pancakes with bacon for breakfast. She absolutely lights up, throws her arms around me and breathlessly exclaims, "You the best mom ever!" And those are the words that keep me going.

Verity will soon be 3 months old, and she is officially my magical unicorn baby. The baby I didn't know could exist. She's been sleeping like a champ for over a month now, and there have been a few nights when she literally slept all night. I mean, how is this even possible? Between Eisley and Cora, I did not sleep for three out of the last six years. THREE YEARS OF NOT SLEEPING. Is it any wonder that I find gray hairs not only on my head but also in my eyebrows? Or that I once forgot my child's middle name at a doctor's appointment? Or that my wildest fantasy has long been to sleep in a hotel room all by myself for an entire night? (Sorry, Jay.) Maybe I will start reverse-aging due to all the sleep I'm getting now. One can hope. In any case, even when she's being fussy, she is still a remarkably easy baby, so I have no complaints. She smiles and coos and sticks her tongue out and is completely enamored with her big sisters. (The feelings are mutual.) I can't help but wonder what her personality will be like as she gets older.

There are times I can't help but scoop her up and forget the laundry or dishes or the older two girls hollering at each other upstairs, and just breathe in her baby smell and brush my lips across her soft baby hair and feel completely and utterly grateful for her being here.

I often feel so imperfect as a mother, but these days I realize that it's okay. We're not meant to be. We're not expected to be. It's okay to have hard days, hard weeks, hard months. Because we also have good days, weeks, months. So, I carry on and forgive (both myself and my children) and try to find moments of delight and adventure and peace within these days I find myself in. They're good ones, after all.

Further reading: peace, finally

1 comment :

  1. I am not a mom, so what do I know... but from what I have learned through friends that are moms: there is no PERFECT way to mother. It all comes down to doing the best you can every single day (and from what I can tell, that's what you're doing!) <3

    ReplyDelete

Thoughts? Questions? General musings? Do share!

If you are asking a question, I will respond here within the comments—so, be sure to click that handy little "notify me" box below to know when I've replied!