It has been 4 years and I have come a long way.
This post is looking back on the journey I have taken since becoming a mother. It is deeply personal but something I felt like I wanted to write about and record.
I know many of you will read this and might be able to understand but not empathize. When it comes to motherhood I guess you can say I feel like a misfit. Like I never quite joined the circle and fit in emotionally, physically, spiritually. I became a mother, so I was there, but to me it felt more like watching others to see how I was supposed to be feeling rather than how I was truly feeling.
The first few months postpartum I got ransacked with the comment/question, "Isn't being a mother the best thing in the entire world?!?! Could you ever imagine it would be this wonderful?!" I would usually smile politely or nod my head in agreement because that was what I was supposed to do. But in my head I was screaming and frustrated because I was not feeling those feelings. What I wanted to say was, "No! This isn't the best thing in the world. I am dying here. This is HARD. I don't sleep. I do not have even a moment of time to gather my thoughts. I am walking through life feeling like a zombie right now."
Here is the thing, I could definitely imagine how wonderful it was supposed to be. The visions, dreams, and plans I had before I gave birth were what I was supposed to be feeling and living. I disappointed myself in multiple ways and it was hard to face the fact that I was not the mother I had always imagined I was. I always told anyone who asked that I was going to have 12 kids. A big house full of kids and one that would never be empty because grand kids would start coming before my youngest even graduated from school. I imagined being very disciplined in my parenting and knowing the right way to do everything. I already knew all the things I would NEVER do...only to have several of those done and done over and over again before the first week of Carter's life had even passed. Most of things I would NEVER do, well...I guess you could say they were actually things I would ALWAYS do. :)
I have always been happy for my friends who were joyous right from the start. I wish that was me. I would never wish the feelings I went through on anybody. It was a hard time. It is a time that still scares me. I am pretty much terrified of going through that again. Part of me does not want to do it all again. To just stop while I am ahead because I don't know if I can. I don't know if I can make it out a second time. This may seem extreme, that is because it is. It was that bad. I was able, for the most part, to put on a face and "fake it till you make it". I wanted to be a good mom. I wanted people to think I was being a good mom. So I pretended as best I could. So most people who were around me at the time might not even realize most of this. I did share a lot of this way back at the beginning of blogging in a post. I am glad I did because made a friend out of it:) It also helped me realize I am not alone. There are other mother's out there who have had these feelings. Hormones play a huge role in this. It took an extremely long time for my body to even out again. I don't know why? But like I mentioned in the past post, it took a full 18 months before I actually noticed a physical change starting to take place. It felt like a big heaviness was starting lift off my chest. Happiness started creeping back in. Finally.
So, I guess you can say motherhood has been something I have had to grow into. It has taken a lot of adjusting, crying, praying, and self-talk. Seriously, if you do not talk to yourself. Maybe you should. And I don't mean out loud but by all means if you need to talk out loud go for it. You might also call it pondering. I make sure to take time to think things out, ponder, and realize what is important and what is not. I self-evaluate and set goals. I can talk myself out of feeling bad a lot of times. And that has made a huge difference. It really does work.
What excites me about writing this post is the fact that I can say that I think I have made it! I no longer have to look at other moms and wonder what I am supposed to be feeling. Now I have those feelings. They finally caught up with me...or I finally caught up with them, I think maybe they have always been there but I had to get through the clutter before I could feel them.
This last year, especially, has been HUGE! Watching Carter grow and change and become the little person he is has been thrilling. My heart swells and explodes several times a day as I just look on as he lives his little life right now. I think my love for Carter has grown exponentially in the past year and it just keeps multiplying. I love my little boy. He is my best little friend. And he is so naughty. Haha...but so sweet at the same time. As hard as this is to say, at the beginning I wanted things back to normal. Just me and Josh. I needed things to go back to how they were because I could handle that. I loved Carter as my baby but I guess at the time I couldn't handle the change. Which I hate saying. It makes me feel like I am weak. Like I am bad/evil/mental. I know it was something so much more than that just going on inside of me and I was not myself. It was not my fault. But I still dislike it.
But now, my life only makes sense with Carter in it. We spend every minute of every day together and I LOVE it. There are those times when I just need a moment of alone time. When I beg Josh to please take Carter for a walk or let me go to the store alone but those moments are few and far between compared to what they used to be. Carter and I get along just fine. We play and go lots of places. He usually gets to be the Captain and chart out the plan. Yes, he is spoiled. Yes, he believes the world in fact revolves around him. Because it is true, my world does revolve around him. I love age 3 and so far I love age 4 but I do not like age 5. I want Carter to stop growing, pronto! I want him to stay my little boy and it is all going by too fast.
The other night Carter fell asleep while we were watching a movie. In a rare moment, I picked him up and laid him on my chest and just held him for about an hour while he slept. It has been a long time since I have done that. I wanted to imprint that feeling. His little body. His smell. I wanted time to stop and allow me to always be able to hold him. I imagined him as a man, like his daddy, and wanting to hold him again but not being able to. Because I can't imagine that the feelings I had right then ever change. Do they? Just because they grow up? I imagine I will always want to hold my little boy just like I did that night. But life goes on and he will grow up and unless you want a book written about you, you don't crawl into your grown son's window at night and hold him. Yeah Katy, you are right...a little creepy. haha.
I feel great. I am so happy. Life is seriously so good right now. Josh and I keep looking at each other...like we are waiting for the ball to drop. Like, what have we done to be so blessed? But I try everyday to take my life with gratitude, not for granted.
People keep asking and even saying things like, "when you have your next child". To be honest. I am in no hurry. I am enjoying ever minute with my little family and love that I can give Carter so much time and attention. I have moments of being completely baby hungry and wanting another. But I am okay with the fact that I move at a slower pace.
I really hope no one cringes at me when they read this. I hope it is read with understanding. I hope no one judges me for not having those same feelings, or maybe the same intensity of those feelings, that other moms have instantly. It is not something I chose. I would never have picked for things to go the way they did. I wanted so badly to be like the other mothers I knew. To swoon and exclaim , "YES!" when asked if being a mom was the best thing ever. I know it doesn't matter what anyone thinks about me but I hope for the health of society that issues like this are looked upon with more sensitivity and less criticism.
I wish there was more awareness of postpartum depression and resources for mothers who are dealing with it. While it was discussed and I was educated on it before giving birth, after the fact you can feel abandoned. My doctor gave me some pills but that was the extent of it. It was so much more than that and I would have liked somewhere to turn, some place to go. Thankful for my husband who stood by my side and took care of me and Carter when I couldn't. He is my hero. For my mom who dropped everything to be there when I needed her. They were the only ones I let in at the time and I am grateful they accepted the invitation as if it were no big deal to pick up the slack.
So, in retrospect, nothing worked out like I had always imagined. But what in life actually does? I have come a long way and I am so grateful that I made it to the place that I am in now. I pray it only continues to get better here on out as I grow into my role as a mother. Though I have come a long way, I have longer to go. There is so much that can be improved upon. Which is actually encouraging because that means I have a place to go and things will only get better. The road started out bumpy but right now it is pretty smooth sailing.
So is being a mother the best thing ever you ask? Yes. Yes, it really is.