Sunday, May 11, 2014

My motherhood experience

I feel like there are a lot of aspects of motherhood that have surprised me. I had a lot of expectations based on what I had heard and read about motherhood, and my experience hasn't always aligned with those expectations (in good ways and bad ways). I'd like to share some of my thoughts to show that there's not just one way to experience motherhood. And just to be clear, I love Jonas and I love being his mom. But I want to be honest about the hard parts as well as the good parts.

  • I did not immediately feel the "surge" of love. Most women talk about an overwhelming feeling of love immediately after their baby is delivered. I did not feel this. I don't know if that's due to my long, difficult labor or just to my personality. I felt happy, but I was not overwhelmed. I had heard women say they didn't know how much they could love until they had a child. I felt like I loved Jonas as much as I had expected to, which was a lot. I did not feel like I had entered some other realm of love. I do feel like my love for him has grown stronger over time. Now that he interacts more, I feel like I really know him. Around the 3-month mark, (which, probably not coincidentally, is when he started to sleep through the night consistently - I do not deal well with sleep deprivation), I started to experience some of those heart-swelling moments.
  • I am still basically the same person I was before (the positive). I had always feared losing myself in motherhood and thought I would have to actively fight against that. So, I was relieved to find that I still have other interests and enjoy pursuing my hobbies and career opportunities. This is one reason I didn't end up doing cloth diapers. When I envisioned myself as a stay-at-home mom, I figured I'd want to throw all my energy into mothering, so why not go all the way. But when I have some down time, I don't want to be washing diapers. I want to be reading or lesson planning or making cards or baking, just like before. (Not that moms who cloth diaper don't do those things - it's just there was really nothing else motivating me to do it beyond the belief that it was a stay-at-home mom type of thing to do.) And, despite the lack of any talk beyond mothering and Jonas on this blog, I feel like I've still done an ok job of having conversations with people about other parts of life.
  • I am still basically the same person I was before (the negative). Like any other major life change, motherhood has revealed more of who I truly am. And, while there are a lot of things I love about myself, I feel like motherhood throws my shortcomings into sharp relief. I am not a patient person. Sometimes this leads to frustration when Jonas doesn't nap like he should or requires multiple rockings to go to sleep. I never want to be frustrated at him - he's a baby. I also have a hard time going with the flow, and this is a major challenge with a baby. I do feel like I'm making some progress in this area. A few weeks ago, Jonas slept late, and I told Darby, "Well, I guess we'll just have to be late to church." He was like, "What?!? I can't believe you just said that." I'm slowly learning to adapt, but I still find myself mourning the loss of control over my schedule. I don't think parents are better people than non-parents. And I think most people try to be better people, whether they have kids or not. But parenting forces you to confront the negative things about yourself on a daily, sometimes hourly, basis, and it can be pretty painful.
  • Even with an easy baby, I can't seem to get things done. I always heard about not getting a shower, having to do everything one-handed, etc. And I haven't experienced that. I lucked out with an easy baby who is pretty content laying on a blanket or sitting in his bouncy seat. But, I've still found it very hard to get things done. I won't go into all the specifics, but all my plans for projects I would do as a stay-at-home mom have gone out the window. I'm having to redefine my idea of what a productive day is. I know this sounds silly, but I didn't really consider that taking care of a baby actually takes a lot of time. I feel like Pinterest/Facebook/blogs are a bit to blame for this. It seems like every other stay-at-home mom is cooking amazing meals, creating beautiful decorations for their house, making "sensory boards" for their babies, etc. So when I spend the day just keeping Jonas and myself fed, clothed, and happy, it seems like I've done nothing.
  • I don't feel incomplete without Jonas. I know a lot of moms don't ever want to leave their babies, and I think that's a very real feeling for them. But I just haven't felt that way. I started leaving Jonas with Darby almost immediately, and when Darby's mom was here shortly after the birth, we both left him with her. I'm always thrilled to come home to him, but I wouldn't say I miss him when I'm gone for a few hours. I still very much enjoy my alone time, time with friends, and time with Darby. I don't really worry about him when I'm away either. I definitely don't worry when he's with Darby. I feel like we're total equals in parenting skills.
So, there's some of the things that have taken me off guard in the first 5 months of parenting. In the midst of the cute Jonas pictures and anecdotes, I want to make sure I'm keeping it real as well. I'd love to hear from other parents about ways your experience differed from your expectations.

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