I was pregnant with my first son when I heard the phrase “having a baby is like carrying your heart around outside your body”. I saw it on baby cards and had it spoken in hushed voices to me at my baby shower.
Cheesy, I thought.
Now, almost 10 years into my life as a mom, I realize how profoundly that simple fact of motherhood has changed me. My heart walks around in 5 little pieces. My own happiness is dependent on the happiness of my children.
During my first pregnancy, I told a coworker that I needed “lots and lots of free time” to feel relaxed and she looked at me like I had no idea what I was in for. As an experienced mom, she knew that my free time was about to become a thing of the past.
I’d looked forward to maternity leave as a vacation to catch up on all my favorite shows and spend my mornings sleeping in. I had no idea that I would spend my maternity leave caring for a preemie who couldn’t sleep for more than 2 hours at a time and that ten years later 5 hours of straight sleep would still feel like a vacation.
I can do things now that I couldn’t do before. I only need one hand to be functional. I can improvise and come up with creative solutions to just about anything – even public vomiting.
My 11-month-old gets a much more experienced and confident mom than my oldest son did. He was rushed to the pediatrician every time he bumped his head. Now, with three crazy boys in the house we have a rule – unless there’s blood we don’t even get off the couch. The pre-mom me who was squeamish around blood would be shocked that I can tell instantly whether something needs stitches (and if it does you’d better believe I’ll be watching the doctor put every one in to make sure he does it right).
Motherhood has made me tougher, stronger. I buried a child and kept moving forward. I had to. My other children needed me.
Sometimes I wish I could go back and tell my former self what she was in for. Then I realize it would scare her to death. She wasn’t ready for that. She might have been afraid to jump into motherhood, but then she would have missed all those tiny little moments that are really the big ones in the end. My baby blowing raspberries on my belly in the morning. My oldest son gently caring for his sister. My 5 year old telling me he loves me . . . just because. My 7 year old letting me in on all the beauty he sees in the world.
How has motherhood changed you?
Photo by Chris Nelson