Transitions. There are some that feel small, almost non-existent, because the change isn’t significant. There may be some cross-over to life as you know it which proves helpful in the change. Like, switching hair stylists or getting a new car. Other transitions feel huge, almost all-consuming, because the change is significant. Like, moving to a new city, taking a different job, getting married, retiring or, for me, becoming a mom. Some transitions are planned for, others take us by surprise. Some happy, others not. Whether planned or unexpected, happy or not, transitions often shake our sense of identity. How true of my transition into motherhood!
Such a wee little life is wholly and totally dependent on me. For food, for safety, for care, well, for EVERYthing. No one has ever relied on me or trusted me so much. Our schedule rearranges, our plans change and our flexibility becomes inflexible in order to meet our son’s needs. To be all to my son. Weighty.
And, of course, there are different ways to meet these needs, often referred to as “mommy wars.” It’s a cultural and emotional battle zone we land in the minute we become mothers. Cloth diapers vs. disposable. Breast feed vs. bottle feed. Co-sleeping vs. not co-sleeping. Stay-at-home vs. work. So many choices. I find myself in a pool of new pressures. Opposing expectations are placed on me that are impossible to meet. As a new mom, I don’t want to be judged. I will make mistakes. I’ve given myself permission to disagree with myself, later today, tomorrow or in a year from now. My husband and I are learning as we go… This parenting thing is a lot of trial-and-error, figuring out what works best for mom and babe and family. And it’s unlikely that we get it “right” the first time. So grace, please. Mommies, I promise to suspend judgment, give you the benefit of the doubt and learn from you. I hope you do the same.
My new role as mom changes my relationships. My husband and I had friends over for dinner this week. This particular evening, they could only hang out for an hour and a half. Baby was extra hungry so he fed longer than I planned; therefore, I missed greeting our friends and their first 30 minutes with us. Then, as dinner was being served, baby got fussy. I was trying to calm and appease. No success. I had learned about cluster feeding during growth spurts so I went back into the nursery to feed again. Another 30 minutes away from friends. When I returned the table was cleared and I finished my half eaten cold plate of food. By myself. I was embarrassed. And disappointed because my time with our friends was not the quality time I was used to enjoying. Not that I needed to be embarrassed or disappointed, as my visiting friend is a mom to a one year old cutie pie and pregnant with her second. They get it. But we did get some conversation in while playing tractors before they had to go, which I was thankful for. *Things to do: Get better at multitasking and redefine “quality time.”
Becoming a mom has opened pandora’s emotional box. Oh my word. I knew motherhood would bring with it new emotions, but I had no clue the depths of love I’d feel. I remember sitting on the couch after being home with baby our first week and the emotion was so great I couldn’t suppress the flow. When I open myself up to love, I open myself up to vulnerability. It was emotion felt beyond the daily, tiring task of caring for a baby. My baby’s whole life flashed before my eyes – the cuts and bruises, the hurt feelings, the disappointments and failures, the heartaches. I want to protect him from it all. To act as a shield or guard. I want to do my very best for him. And yet I felt wildly out of control. And that makes me panic and cry and feel helpless. I know so many moms have gone before me, experiencing child birth and emotions and parenting and years gone by… How do they do it? How do they feel so much and so big and handle themselves? It makes me weak in the knees.
The bright, young Helen Keller once said, “A bend in the road is not the end of the road, unless you fail to make the turn.” For me this bend is a transition to motherhood. As overwhelming as it is, I choose to make the turn, to learn, to re-learn, to grow with my baby and family. This transition is a beautiful and exciting one. So much movement, life, hope. And so, regardless of the inflexibility, the pressures, the change in relationships, the emotions… I choose to trust God with a thankful heart and embrace this bend that’s sure to lead to adventure.