A blog post about motherhood. It was bound to happen. It’s what moms do, right? That thought is why I’ve been avoiding this post. But then I thought about what I do – I as in me, since online thought sharing became a thing – and what I do is share my story online. Or at least pieces of it.
This post could and probably will get pretty cliche. I’ll try to avoid it, because I desperately want my friends without kids to read this, too. Of all the cliches I’d heard before and dreaded, one of the most painfully real is how social lives change after having a kid. I want to build a bridge somehow to fix that. #dreambig
Another cliche that’s come to fruition is that love thing; the love a parent feels for his or her baby really does border on indescribable. But I don’t think it’s an exclusive ticket to a parents-only club. At least I don’t want it to be.
Then there’s the marriage shift. And the parental shift, as in, how differently things look between my parents and myself with this life change.
Lastly, I want to talk about the me shift. The fears and realities of an identity that (I see now) must inevitably evolve once that baby is placed in one’s arms.
First up: Friends. I’m gonna be straight with a lot of you guys; you don’t invite me out anymore. You’ve stopped asking me to hang out. You’ve even stopped with the Facebook event invites. Could you rightfully assume I wouldn’t be able to make it? Probably. But the message received was one of ignoring or not liking, not consideration. FYI. Why do we do this to new moms? I’m sure I did it, too! But TBH, while giving birth involves medical professionals for good reason, it doesn’t come with a quarantine. I’ll get to the identity struggle in a minute, but I think it’s super important to let new parents know that they’re welcome even if not expected. In fact, it’s probably great for us to get a break from the intensity to hear from friends who’ve had kids and made it AND from those who don’t and can talk to us about those other, still important parts of our lives. I guess I’ve realized that moms only hang with other moms because for the most part, that’s whose rallied around us. Not because we don’t want our other friends. (Special shout out to my ladies who have been there throughout! You beautiful unicorns know who you are).
Why is that important? I used the word intensity because everything about new babies is intense, and mostly in really good ways. Intensely cute. Also intensely messy. But mostly the intense kind of love that goes beyond “aww you’re precious.” Yes, it’s love at first sight – including the 10 week ultrasound we had – but it’s also falling in love with this tiny little stranger who has needs and routines that take awhile to master. It’s crazy beautiful hard and more “natural” in a very National Geographic wilderness kind of way – not a “so easy always intuitive” way. It’s good to hear from other parents because y’all have so many suggestions one of them is bound to click! And it’s good to hear from non-parents because chances are you’re part of someone’s child rearing village and I don’t think biological reproduction alone qualifies anyone as an expert. It’s also good to hear from anyone about work gossip, entertainment news, book talks, insert-non-parenting-interest-Here. Because while the world rightfully revolves around that new little bean on one level, and always will, parents actually are still people. Something that is definitively logical yet easy to forget. I want this kiddo to have healthy, well rounded parents. That’s part of the intense love thing; loving him enough to figure out what’s best for him and then doing those things.
Which brings me to the shifts in marriage and between myself and my parents. I have sooooo much more grace for my parents now. My mom will attest to that (she actually pointed it out and I wasn’t even offended. Evidence!) And Mike and I have thankfully become an even stronger team. I know that isn’t always the case, and I can totally see why, so I’m grateful. There was something magical between us during labor and delivery that’s carried past, where communicating needs is easier and more clear as are meeting them. I couldn’t imagine doing this without Mike.
That shift to comfort in dependency is a big part of how my identity has evolved. Probably for the better. It is humbling to realize how challenging yet amazing I have found parenting. I honestly didn’t fully expect it to work out for us, so my expectations were nearly nonexistent. Nevertheless, one thing I was genuinely afraid of was losing my drive. Losing my passion for my career. And losing my love of writing. In some ways, exhaustion of new parenting has borrowed from those reserves. They’re rebuilding, slowly, but it’s bizarre to see my biggest fear start to happen and be too tired to care that much. I can voice that now, 4 months in, because they’re coming back. But I definitely was surprised to see how easily and even happily I added “mom” to my identity when I thought I surely wouldn’t change that much. I wouldn’t be “that girl.” I don’t like proving myself wrong. As my Instagram feed became the Auggie show that I swore it never would, I laughed at myself because when on maternity leave in winter, what else am I going to take pictures of? When I felt the emotional cocktail of joy at being back at work mixed with guilt for feeling joyful mixed with an intense sadness at being away from Augustine mixed with gratitude to my mom for watching him plus a dash of fearful jealousy that he’ll like her better…once again, I’ve arrived at cliche.
When I found out we were going to be parents, I really wanted to avoid being cliche…but now I realize that’s just another cliche anyway. Parenthood is amazing. Exhausting. Rewarding…yet draining. It’s everything you’ve ever heard. And that’s kind of amazing, too.