Becoming a mother is a whole different world. Suddenly you are the one in charge of making crucial decisions, forgoing the usual fun and games for what needs to be accomplished, and forever feeling responsible for a little one who depends entirely on you to be the responsible party. It’s a life altering decision and there is no looking back. There is a series of confusion, growth, and self-discovery that in many ways can be compared to the transition from child to teenager. The stages of becoming a mother are very similar to the stages of puberty, and in some ways, are exactly the same. With so many changes in both body and emotions, one feels to again be hitting a new milestone in life.
Just when I’d thought I’d completed going through puberty over twenty years ago, suddenly I feel thrust in the pre-teenesque maturation all over again as I entered what I’ll call, “The Puberty of Motherhood.”
Of course the first thing I became excited over when I got pregnant was my growing boobs. Though I’d been promised by my mother that mine would grow as large as hers when I was in middle school, they never surpassed a very small B cup. With elation similar to that of my childhood, I happily watched my breasts grow larger and larger with my ongoing pregnancy. Once again I felt like a growing woman. With the new awesome development to my body I also once again realized the fun of going bra shopping which was a new novelty as I’d really given up bras for camisoles long ago. I found myself once again getting over the ‘I need a bra!’ excitement a lot faster than I imagined.
Shortly after giving birth I discovered the unforeseen necessity of needing to wear a bra all night as a breastfeeding mom so I didn’t wake up in a complete bath of stale milk; a completely separate annoyance all on its own. Of course for some gross reason puberty is accompanied by different forms of discharge oh too gross to want to talk about, motherhood brings a whole slew of milky discharge along with it when breastfeeding. The purchasing of breast pads to soak up the leakage can be likened to the purchasing of panty liners. Suddenly a whole new line of products are needed to clean up, and heal the wonderful changes. Oh yes, the joy of growing up.
Along with things of a fluid nature puberty brings the exciting onset of a hairier persuasion, with the pains of needing to shave. Shaving was definitely a new pain with the ever growing belly in the way. I had to find new ways to stretch and reach to get near my calves so they didn’t resemble Christmas trees; however, not shaving as a teen is an egregious offence, while most mommies I’ve spoken with all agree that you just need to give up and let stuff grow.
One of the most wonderful things about being pregnant is not having that nasty monthly friend coming to visit. For nine months one can escape the cycle that was such a burden from pre-teen years. I rather felt a childlike freedom not having to worry about buying tampons, experiencing cramping, bloating, and other gross stuff associated with menstruation. It was a sad day when my old frenemy returned with the full force I remembered as a kid. Not being on the regular birth control unleashed the old school cycle of seven long days, endless purchasing of feminine products and the misery of bedridden cramps I hadn’t experienced in sixteen years. Oh yes, I felt like I hit puberty all over again when the crimson wave finally came crashing in.
Much like when going through puberty a new mom tends to go through a slew of emotions during, and after pregnancy. Though I was proud of my growing belly and loved how my husband’s eyes would sparkle when he looked at my round basketball belly, I certainly didn’t always feel the most wonderful. I experienced periods of depression and uncertainty in my journey toward my due date. To my surprise I consistently felt as amorous as a teenager on prom night (which my husband was not complaining about). After the birth of my daughter I felt a sort of identity crisis. I took to experimenting with my clothes and hair once again, attempting to find a sense of “me” again. So many of the things I felt defined me were no longer a crucial part of my life as I faced a land of new responsibility.
The thought about meeting mom groups and breeching their cliques reminded me of the desire to sit with the cool kids in school. Of course in most cases it isn’t like that, but now judgement isn’t based on personality and looks, but being judged on how excellent and devoted a mother one is. The joys and frustrations of making new friends who understand and just plain get where you’re coming from is just as important as a mother as it was in school. Being a new mother is very much like being a new teen where one is suddenly expected to be responsible while having no idea what the heck they are doing. Finding the support of others sharing common experience and purpose is a great comfort.
We All Make It Through
I did eventually find my footing, though every day is a growing experience. The same way I grew from child to teen, and teen to adult I grew into being a mother. I got used to and accepted the various bodily changes, and learned to work through the emotional roller coasters. Mothers are always finding their way, learning lessons, finding more efficient ways of making things work, and experiencing new growth as time goes on. Life is a series of change, and this is like the second coming of age. So when a new mom finds herself once again feeling like a lost kid in a new intimidating world, remember, it’s just the puberty of motherhood meant to make us stronger, and this too shall pass.