I thought I knew about the world. I thought I knew myself. I thought I knew my marriage. I had goals and plans to reach them. I had empty boxes on my list of life waiting to be checked, and I was well on my way, pen in hand, to mark them off.
And then I had a baby.
Becoming a mother broke me. My head, heart, and life shattered in ways I wasn’t able to comprehend. I was struggling to keep my head above the waters of motherhood while I saw everyone else around me freestyle lapping me in the pool. I constantly wondered, What have I done?
Nothing at all–absolutely nothing–was my precious baby boy’s fault. He entered this world in a hurry, and I thought I was ready. (Don’t we all?) But, I wasn’t. Becoming a mother shattered me. I straggled around for months not really headed in any direction. I was only trying to survive.
Absolutely nothing could have prepared me for motherhood.
And I think that will be the largest understatement of my life.
My firstborn entered the world into a selfish young woman’s arms–I was barely not a child myself. I was a strong, independent woman who didn’t answer to anyone until my son came along. I was entrusted to leave the hospital with a soul fresh from Heaven. I knew that the day I found out I was pregnant, but it didn’t register with me until much later.
I didn’t know how to keep a baby alive. They let first-time moms wheel out of the hospital with a pat on the back, a baby strapped in a car seat, the extra diapers from your hospital room, and not much else. Call me naïve, foolish, immature, or just completely ignorant, but I didn’t realize becoming a mother would be as challenging as it was. I didn’t realize how much my life would change. How were all these women I knew as mothers surfing elegantly through life when I was barely treading water?
I questioned every single move I made to the point of causing major anxiety.
I thought my days were long, but each day the sun would go down, and I’d find myself pacing the house, bouncing a baby. The nights were miraculously longer than the days. I can remember lying on the dark nursery floor late one night, crying as my son cried in his crib because I felt so lost. So inadequate. So helpless. So truly incapable of being what my son deserved.
I lacked any ounce of energy, or desire, to leave my house. I stayed in the same clothes for days, only changing when the spit-up made my shirts too stiff. I watched my husband leave for work each day, and I was angry. Angry that he had a place to go where no one depended on him for literal survival. When he came home I didn’t care to try to have conversations with him because I was too tired and too resentful to try. I truly didn’t want to argue with him, so I figured silence was the way to go.
My struggle to be a mother became a retreat from all other aspects of my life.
A few months in, I wondered, Why didn’t anyone tell me this? Women tell you how hellacious the act of childbirth is, but no one ever told me that the worst hardships come after you leave the hospital and bring the baby home.
I became a person, that looking back, I do not recognize.
But I also want to tell you that I overcame. And you will, too.
When your child enters the world, you change almost every aspect of your life overnight. This is no easy feat–it’s monumentally groundbreaking.
It’s OK if becoming a mother breaks you.
My son, my precious baby boy, has taught me more than anyone else ever will. I had to break. I had to fall apart. I think I needed to become less self-centered. I needed to be brought out of my naivety and oblivion. I needed to realign my life priorities.
All the struggles I eventually pulled through made me the mother I am today. I needed him to do it.
My little boy was the catalyst to a brand new life for me, and I am forever thankful.
He doesn’t know the impact he had on me yet, but one day when he’s older I hope he can understand that he made me a better person.
Over time, (and with help from a combination of therapy, support, medication, and religion) I learned not to question my every move. I learned following my gut can be OK and that a mother’s intuition should never be discounted. I learned that I don’t have to do everything by the book and that’s OK. I learned it’s OK to change your mind, to grow, and to move forward without feeling guilty. I can face the unknown with confidence instead of terror if I realize that it’s possible to learn and grow with my child. I learned that no one has it all figured out, and if they tell you they do, they’re lying.
My son has shown me more about the world in his few years here than I would’ve ever learned on my own. He has shaped me with his own tiny hands into the woman I am, molding me into a better person each day. I continue to surpass limits I thought I had all the time, finding grace along the way. I don’t know that I will ever be able to show him how much he means to me.
Becoming a mother broke me. I needed it. And I’m better for it.