Each new year seems to bring a slew of marketing campaigns targeted at moms, or just parents in general, promising to help them address the sorts of problems that they are too busy, or tired to deal with at the end of the year, during a full holiday season. Their claims boast ways to help us get more sleep, fit in more exercise, eat better, stay more organized, stay more grounded, live in the moment, and enjoy our kids more…the list goes on.
I’ve typically been one of those people who maps out goals for each year. I even have a special goal planner that I’ve used in the past. I’ve been known to pick out a word of the year and map out my intentions in great detail for each month. I was especially committed to this before I had children, even in the year leading up to the birth of my first child.
When I was pregnant with my first baby, I had a lot of big goals and dreams for that first year of motherhood. To say that all of that came to a screeching halt when I had my first baby would be an exaggeration. But to say that I am a different person now that I’m a mother, would be understating the truth.
I was totally naïve to how much my life would change when I became a first-time mother. Having my first baby completely changed my life in every way I thought possible, and in other ways I never thought about previously.
People always say that when you birth your first baby you also birth a new version of yourself. I never quite understood that until I met her. The newborn days with my first baby were difficult. If I’m being honest, given my background, I didn’t think it would be as hard as it was. Before she came into our world, I re-read all the baby books that I had read before and recommend to other parents. I had a plan, and it was going to be this smooth transition from two to three of us.
As anyone who’s reading this knows, if you’ve ever had a child, nothing (and I mean nothing) can fully prepare you for the fourth trimester – the sleep deprivation and the inevitable feeding difficulties, the fussiness, the healing from birth, the flood of emotions as your hormones are regulating. Then you get past the newborn stage, and things start to look up again. Just as soon as you’ve gotten into your groove, some new difficulty of some new stage presents itself.
I equally love motherhood and have found it to be one of the most challenging experiences I’ve ever been privileged to go through.
As I enter into this new year, I’m just a few months away from meeting my second baby. Things are different this time around. There are no big goals or to-dos on my list for this year, other than to prepare for the baby the best we can, and then just take life as it comes to us.
This time, I plan to live in the moment as much as possible, enjoy the highs and hold on tight through the lows, knowing that easier days are coming.
There are times in life when all of the stars align, everyone is in a good place and the whole family is thriving. But then there are those times in life where you’re in survival mode. Sometimes you are thrust into those times unexpectedly through the sudden loss of a loved one, loss of a beloved relationship or loss of a job. But in other rare, special times you can prepare your heart and mind for the fact that everything’s about to change.
No, you can’t predict the future, and there will certainly be more curveballs than initially prepared for. But I think as mothers, we spend too much time wanting to do it all and do it perfectly. What if we were to just give ourselves grace during those times of survival mode? What if it were OK to drop some of our many balls in the air and just focus on our most important relationships for a short period of time? Those being the relationship with ourselves, our partners, and our children.
I write a lot about becoming a mother. I write for those moms expecting their first child. But I also write about the continual process of becoming a mother for myself, and all of the other mothers who are already mothering children. We’re always in the process of becoming the next version ourselves. Yes, of course, we hope that it will be a more loving version, a more graceful version, or a more patient version. But sometimes a stronger, grittier version is what we become after a challenging season, and that’s OK too.
These life experiences always end up shaping us into the mother that we are meant to be in the next season of our lives. Life is full of ebbs and flows. Sometimes it’s OK to just ride the wave, put one foot in front of the other and take it one day, and one moment at a time. So, this year I’m giving myself and any other mom out there who this resonates with, permission to just be who you are now. You’ll meet the new you later; it doesn’t have to be in January.