As I sit to write, my daughter is 1 year 1 month and 8 days old. She’ll likely be much older by the time this post makes it to the world’s eyes because … being a mom.
I’m a writer, and so all along, even when she was nothing but a possibility, I envisioned writing of her life.
Not like this, for the world to see, but documenting and capturing the memories, most likely in a journal.
And not just documenting her, but myself too, so I could reflect on the way being her mom is changing me, molding me, creating me into this new person – Mother. A person I dreamed of being, a person I worked so hard to become, harder than I ever worked at anything in my life… Until now.
This year, the first year of my daughter’s life, has consistently been the hardest year of mine. The most challenging. Also the most joy-filled. Definitely the most sleep-deprived.
Most likely as a result of less sleep than I thought possible for a human being to get and still function, the year is already blurry.
And that vision of documenting our lives? Not so much because … being a mom.
Outside of weekly Facebook posts, I’ve barely written a word.
So many moments, so precious they made my chest constrict with pure thankfulness for my daughter’s existence, I can barely recall:
The way her bum bounced back and forth as I stood her on my knee singing bushel and a peck, her smile radiating. The way her fists pushed into the side of her head, her elbows stuck out, and her back arched when, half-asleep, I lifted her from her car seat. The way her lips pursed when at last my measly milk supply had satisfied her and she fell into a deep sleep.
Well, maybe some moments aren’t quite so blurry, but those are the few I remember clearly. So many others are lost.
I don’t want to lose more.
But it’s hard.
When you’re a mother everything, it seems, is hard. Or at least harder than it used to be.
Decisions. Sleep. Healthy eating. Sleep. Exercise. Sleep. Being the person you want to be, need to be, for the person who grew inside of you (or, who grew in your heart).
Yesterday was a particularly hard day. I’d been sick for over a week and a half and it was the first day I started to feel like a human again. Exhausted, but not in so much pain. Not stuffed up and achy and wanting to cry at the reality of being a mom, of being so pivotal to someone else’s existence when my own seemed such a pathetic fog.
My daughter, (for her future privacy, let’s call her Little Miss), was having a day full of tears and frustration and screaming.
Food made her angry, setting her down made her angry, picking her up made her angry.
She couldn’t sleep, though exhaustion seemed to seep from her pores like a thick viscous substance.
Every choice I made was apparently the wrong one.
Have you had days like that? Days when, no matter how hard you try, you feel like you’re failing?
This past year I’ve had more days like that than I care to count.
It weighs on you, because you want to make the right choice. The little person clinging to you, needing you, is a gift, and also a responsibility.
The choices you make will shape who this person is going to be and will potentially affect everyone she comes in contact with for the rest of her life – be it the person she marries, the cashier at the grocery store, or the children she’ll have herself.
Whether Little Miss grows up to be happy or sad or insecure or angry will have a lot to do with me.
I know, I know, there’s no way to know what choice is ‘right’ half of the time and holding that kind of responsibility on my shoulders is a tad crazy. But, it’s a tad necessary too, isn’t it?
Yeah, yesterday was hard.
It was also incredible. And I think that’s why we do this thing called parenting. Because as crazy and intense and hard as it is, it’s also definitively beautiful.
It’s full of moments that remind us why we’re alive, why, despite all the war and hatred and sickness and pain, humanity continues.
One of our picks for bedtime stories was Night Night Forest Friends. As I turned the pages, reading the story of how each animal tucked their babies into bed, my baby kissed every page.
No one told her to do this, no one showed her. She just leaned forward, offering a spontaneous act of love to cartoon animals in a board book, and my whole being filled with amazement.
It’s hard, this motherhood thing. It’s exhausting.
It’s the best thing ever.
Care to come along as I endeavour to remember it?
This is the first post in my new blog series, Honest Motherhood, Of course, I’ll withhold some details because I don’t live in a bubble and there are some things the people in my life probably won’t want me sharing.
But, as mentioned above, I haven’t been recording my daughter’s life, the things I’ve learned, or the ways I’ve grown this first year of her life the way I hoped. So, I figured doing it in blog form will keep me accountable. I’m committing to a post every two weeks for the next year. And hopefully, dear reader, something I have to say will make you smile, make you think, or be something you need to hear.
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