01 November 2013

Ack! I've become one of "those moms."

Today is November 1st. My birthday month has started! My nephew, Dylan, was welcomed into the world 8 years ago today. Thanksgiving and the Christmas season are on their way! There are plenty of things to love about November. In years past, I've enjoyed following others as they participated in 30 Days of Thankfulness (or a variety of other titles). I've jumped in a few times casually, but I don't believe I've ever committed to participate for the entire month. This morning, as I was reminded that we had entered November, I made an internal commitment to complete 30 Days of Thankfulness. For a brief moment, I considered blogging through it, but realized that I have a poor track record with committing to daily blogs. I'll plan to share my thankful thoughts on twitter (you can follow me at: twitter.com/217designs) and Facebook.

Here is Day 1 for free!

Now, onto the actual purpose of this post. I fear that I may have become one of those moms. You know the type--the moms who can't stop sharing about their perfect kids, husband, job, life! Even when I was pregnant, I found myself internally rolling my eyes at the women who claimed that pregnancy was just "so wonderful." While pregnancy was relatively easy for me, there was enough discomfort, fatigue and fear of the unknown, that I don't think I ever once described it as "so wonderful." I was excited, but I don't think I felt that same instant bond that many moms experience. It felt awkward to talk to the baby that was growing inside of me. I loved her, and lived in anticipation of her arrival, but interacting with her felt kind of intangible.

After she arrived, it was kind of a haze of diapers and milk and pumping and doctor's visits and tears (hers & mine). I knew people were anxious to see pictures of her and hear what a miracle and wonder our life as new parents was. On Facebook, I posted a handful of pictures. Upon looking back, it appears that my first month or so of facebook posts about our little girl offered very little commentary. I wanted to document our new little girl, but didn't care to admit how difficult it was--I knew nobody wanted to hear that. I had to work hard to find the joy. When we finally got out of the house and I was asked how being a new mom was, I often described it as "hard." This seemed to take people by surprise. I really wasn't comfortable describing it any other way, yet. Nobody prepared me for this struggle. I cried a lot. I had my husband, a few close friends and my mom and sisters to confide in, but other than that, I fought this battle internally. I cried so much that I made a point to ask both my sister and my doctor if I might be dealing with postpartum depression--I didn't want to miss the signs. With a few questions, they were able to determine that I was not. I was relieved and disappointed--at least a diagnosis would give me an excuse for being so sullen and distressed. All the while, I would see posts from other new moms expressing incredible delight and wonder. They had already gone on outings with their little ones and I was locked away in my little apartment trying desperately to figure this parenting thing out. For them, it appeared that every day held something new and amazing. For me, it felt like every day held the same anxiety and distress. And each mention of how wonderful their child was felt like a piercing accusation that something was wrong with me. "What was I doing wrong?" I would think. Why am I not overjoyed like those moms? I was determined, however, to not be one of those moms. Their experiences were too perfect, too ideal. Didn't they struggle too? Why weren't they miserable like me?

As we continued through her first year, we settled into a rhythm. Sleep got easier. feeding got easier. We were beginning to figure it out. The posts from those moms felt a little less piercing. It was still hard and slowly I got to share honestly about my struggles and even advise some other moms who went through similar struggles to me. And, in between the posts about a baby that wakes me up at all hours, snot dripping out of the nose, and mischief I never thought a being that small was capable of, I found myself posting about my adorable daughter and how brilliant she was, and how much I loved her and loved watching her grow and learn. And how she taught me to love in a way I had never experienced before! Every once in a while I was one of those moms--and it felt good.

My daughter turned one year just a few months ago, and I'm realizing, more and more, how much I enjoy her, and how proud I am of her, and how incredible this impossible role of parent is! During those first few months, if anyone told me to "cherish this time, it only lasts so long," I might have wanted to punch them in the nose. That time is NOT a time I want to cherish. But if someone told me that now, I would be likely to agree. Being a mom sure is pretty wonderful! Much of this change in attitude came as a result of dumping my (breast) pump. We were free! No more schedules, nothing holding us back or weighing us down. I also got to really appreciate how much work and care my husband had been putting in (because I started to take it for granted)--and I got to brag about him a little too! (He is cleaning the bathroom as I type this!) It wasn't long until I officially became one of those moms. And it was good!

I think that maybe I've been one of those moms all along. That I was just purposeful and honest when I shared (or didn't share) our joys and triumphs. Or maybe I became one of those moms when I (mostly) stopped comparing myself and my family to the families I read about on Facebook. Perhaps I became one of those moms when I realized that those moms were just like me. That sometimes they struggled to find the joy too and when they did, they wanted to shout it from the rooftops. That even though those moms didn't go through exactly what I went through, they had their own trials and were just trying their best to get it right. I'm now proud to be one of those moms.