My neighbor and also my cousin are both expecting their first babies. Sigh. I get a teensy bit Mother Hen-ish when interacting with first time moms because I have a serious soft spot in my heart for them. It's probably because it's ridiculously special to transition from zero to one. Indescribable, really. I can't help but smile when I think of the journey they are about to encounter.
But I severely dislike when seasoned moms tell newbies things like 'just wait' or when they try to one up and scare the soon-to-be-mamas with their stories. That helps nobody. They know it's going to be pretty monumental when they enter into motherhood and navigate the choppy waters of infancy.
Actually, I don't know what it will be like for them. I have no idea how their transition into motherhood will happen, but I know that it's going to be big. And probably awesome. And definitely challenging. But so worth it. So freaking worth it.
I started to get all nostalgic and purposefully read this post the other day: the one I wrote when pregnant with Truman, full of worry and uncertainty and a little bit of humor to get me through the unknown. I was twenty eight years old and pregnant for the very first time, on the cusp of something so gigantic that it was difficult to grasp the enormity of it. 'It' being motherhood. Gigantic, indeed. So abstract back then, and pretty much mind blowing to think that Truman, Cecelia, and Porter didn't exist at that point. Oh, how I would love to answer those questions and worries to my former self. But then again, I definitely don't have all of the answers, even 5+ years and three children later.
I can honestly say that I barely comprehend what life was like before having kids, as being a mom can be all consuming for me (and a lot of other women out there, I'm sure). It's not a bad thing, really, and I don't feel like I've lost myself in the process of becoming a mother. But T, C, and P are definitely the biggest focus of our lives right now....what on earth did we do with our time before kids? (answer: work, exercise, sleep, blogging. I think that about covers it). I am not the same person today as I was in 2009. I still don't have a freaking clue what I'm doing, what to expect in the future, or how to kick butt at this motherhood thing, but at least I do have some life experiences under my belt as M-O-M.
Dear Julia of 2009:
Carry on with the researching of baby gear, the meticulous internetting in relation to All Things Baby, the worrying, the wonderment. Continue to invest so much of your mind-space in the business of becoming a mother. But just know that you have no freaking idea how much your life is about to change.
I don't say that to scare you, or to make you roll your eyes at this haggard, experienced mom. Trust me when I say I don't have all of the answers. I know you assume that a mom of three probably has the motherhood thing figured out, but you'll soon learn that moms are human and constantly evolving with the ever-changing offspring. Still mostly clueless but a little less than pre-kids.
That baby you are carrying will rock your world, in the best way imaginable. He will be your greatest joy, along with his someday-siblings. You will come to know the highest of highs and the lowest of lows of life and as a mom. Molding little lives is not for the faint of heart, my friend. But in those brief moments of clarity, when you can step back and breathe and really come to terms with how incredible your job is as a mom. You'll understand that it's worth it. I cannot stress this enough.
All of the cliches are annoyingly true. It really does pass by with a blink of an eye (sort of). Babies really don't keep. Labor really is beyond any pain you could possibly dream up. (Worth it!) It really is the greatest love you will ever know. It really does feel like your heart is walking around outside of your body. Being a mom really will bring you to your knees like nothing you could imagine. You really will be so sleep deprived that you might consider donating body organs in exchange for a solid eight hours of the good stuff. Kids really are expensive. And they really will be the best thing that's ever happened to you. You won't want to trade it for the world.
Also, you will get gray hairs, wrinkles, have pancake boobs and a totally different body once you are a mom. I find it hilarious that you deem your bump as 'big' right now, because baby number two and three will make your first time bump seem like small potatoes. Yes, the superficial side of you will have to adapt with this new role in your life. But your body will also do things that will make you so proud, such as grow, feed, and comfort your babies. Those babies will share your body with you for awhile. Your body will do a great job, so cut it a little slack, alright?
See that guy over there, the one on the couch watching TV with you (or whatever)? You think you really love him now, and that you really know him better than anyone else, right? He is going to be a super hero dad. When you see your children look at that man you married, with their innocent and proud gazes, you'll get weak in the knees all over again for him. I guess you always knew he'd be a good dad but you couldn't have predicted how becoming their father would make you love him more than ever.
I know you are worried about being the perfect mother. Guess what? You won't be perfect, not even close. But you will be enough of a mom for these kids. They will forgive your lack of patience, overlook your mistakes, and continue to gift you with priceless 'I love you, mommy, you are the best mommy ever's. One of those phrases will trump ten hundred frustrations, which is good because there are a lot of frustrations as a mom.
There is also a lot lot heartache. You know that pit in your stomach you have right now? The automatic sense of WORRY that started with the positive pregnancy test? Yeah, that never ever goes away. Moms worry about their kids always, so you better get used to it and figure out a way to conquer that worry so you can still enjoy motherhood. You will love these kids so fiercely that you'll do anything to protect them. The big bad world can't be avoided, though, and neither can heartache. You'll try to prevent their pain but sometimes you just can't, and *that* is the hardest part of being a mom.
So continue your incessant hunt for the perfect car seat/stroller/high chair. Keep daydreaming about what it will be like to be a mother. And yes, get all of the sleep that you can. Go out to eat with your husband. Travel more. Live it up, girl. That freedom of spontaneity will be something you yearn for in the years to come.
But just know that my current self wouldn't want to go back to those early mom days, either. I'm content with our journey, Julia of yesteryear. I'm happy to be on the other side of those initial transitions. They were special but so is today.
You are going to be just fine. Hang on during the ride of your life, lady. These first few years have been incredible, and journey has only just begun.
Here's to many more transitions. More moments that move me to tears. More frustrations that make me question my abilities. More of it all, of this crazy thing called motherhood.
Christmas cards in 2009. Such babies, on the cusp of something great.