I’ve been so introspective and reflective of my life and experience coming off of my son, Luke’s, second birthday.
The transition to motherhood absolutely rocked me to my core. It was painful and resilient. It was isolating and vulnerable. I cried and panicked; and thought, “I can’t do this” more times than I care to admit. I worried about everything.
For the majority of the last two years, I was unable to find happiness in the moments and pressured myself to be better, or more like my old self, to be everything to everyone. I gave myself no grace for not having the answers. I had it all wrong because I didn’t know what I didn’t know, and I judged myself INCESSANTLY.
Looking back at my newly postpartum self, I have so much sympathy.
If you’re in the THROES of motherhood, please read what I have learned.
24 Lessons I Learned Through 24 Months of Motherhood
You don’t have anything to prove. And you don’t owe anyone anything.
It isn’t a burden to think about yourself less.
Your emotions and situations will overwhelm you, you can sit with them, and feel them, but they will not overtake you. Even if you think you won’t survive them. You absolutely will, because they will pass.
You won’t regret taking it slow. ESPECIALLY during your maternity leave. Whatever you think you should be doing isn’t that important.
You will be pulled so far from who you used to be. It will be hard, painful, odd, and uncomfortable. Be open to this new you, and don’t label her before you know her. Treat her like the other moms you try to impress.
Don’t feel pressured to do everything you’ve always done, the way you’ve always done it. Having a baby and toddler is like living your life in constant Mercury Retrograde. Shit’s always going wrong, the unplanned always happens, and blips are neverending. It behooves you to be flexible, fluid, and OPEN to the ebbs and flows. If you find you are unable to be flexible – soul search as to WHY.
Learn to love the body that created life, it’s different, no doubt. Hating it, wanting to change it, or resenting it is an energy that can be used elsewhere, and you really need all the energy you can get.
There are a lot of conflicting emotions. Not every moment is created for happiness. And that’s okay. Nothing lasts forever.
The effects of pregnancy don’t heal in six weeks. Go to therapy. Do not wait. Go to pelvic floor physical therapy. Do not wait.
Meditation will save you. Journaling will help you. Even if you think it’s too “woo,” just try it.
Being a mother while trying to find your way back to yourself will be the hardest thing you ever do. The only way to get through it is to go through it. Be brave.
Your relationship with EVERYONE (including yourself) will change. Navigate relationships carefully and be protective of your boundaries. See #1 for emphasis.
Adversity will hit your marriage like never before; anticipate that, and you’ll be ahead of the game. Everyone says, “We’re so in love” after baby, and I’m like ARE YOU HIGH ON DRUGS I LITERALLY WANT TO GONE GIRL MY HUSBAND EVERY GD DAY. You and your partner are on the same team, and there’s no need to keep score. If you find yourself counting, let it go, and instead, simply ask for help. The person who holds the score will end up losing the game.
The pause between your stimulus and reaction is SACRED.
Mistakes are inevitable, and they are FINE. You’ve never been perfect, so it’s unrealistic to think you’ll be perfect doing the HARDEST thing you’ll ever do. Furthermore, you’ve managed to be happy without perfection before, so don’t rely on it now.
The GOOD moments are enough – they have to be. Let yourself drown in them because the “bad” ones can be more frequent, but if you are OPPORTUNISTIC and seek out the GOOD ones, they will outweigh everything else.
You can be grateful and exhausted at the same time.
YOUR HOUSE AND YOUR LIFE IS NOT AN INSTAGRAM SHOOT SO CALM DOWN OKEY. LITERALLY, NO ONE CARES IF YOU DON’T HAVE A CENTERPIECE ON YOUR TABLE AND YOUR COUCH PILLOWS ARE UPSIDE DOWN WITHOUT THAT MIDDLE DIVET THAT MAKES THEM SIT UP PERFECTLY.
Wine isn’t the answer.
Release your “old” self and your “old” life. You can reminisce, and you can miss pieces, but looking for them and trying to find them will end up in a fruitless goose chase and that’s time and energy you could spend doing something else.
Your partner cannot give you the love you aren’t giving yourself. And I cannot stress that enough.
Don’t rush bedtime. Every story is a snuggle and an opportunity for a cherished memory.
Shame exists where insecurity lives. Don’t worry about what other mothers think. Worry about how you feel about yourself and UNDERSTAND the root of your fears, and where you feel shame. You will never have the answers, but knowing yourself will give you the confidence you need to make decisions.
The transformation from woman to mother – THAT’S birth too.