Motherhood has reformed me. I used to be your typical Type A, controlling, neurotic nightmare. I’ve never actually said “my way or the highway” to anyone, but that phrase pretty much sums it up. What makes matters worse, of course, is that my well thought out plans usually come to fruition, therefore reinforcing this exact behavior and way of thinking. My first pregnancy was planned, like everything else in my life. Actually, the planning really started much earlier than you would ever guess – you’ll find the names of my future children on the pages of my first journal, started when I was seven or eight years old. My daughters really should thank me that they didn’t end up as “Flower Petal” or “Spice.”
Blessed with the fertile myrtle gene, project baby was launched shortly after we returned from our honeymoon, right on schedule. Like everything else I take on, I became completely and utterly obsessed with my new project. Spreadsheets were created to compare the different options for strollers and cribs; lists outlined how many 0-3 month versus 3-6 month onsies to stock. I read books, watched birth videos, practiced breathing techniques, attended pre-natal yoga classes, talked with other pregnant women. Determined to be “supermom,” I gathered every ounce and scrap of information I could in those short nine months.
What those books and videos never tell you, however, is that nothing – I repeat, nothing – can prepare you for parenthood. And what people especially don’t tell you is that, for a control freak like myself, becoming a mother is like pulling the rug out from under every aspect of your life in one swift motion.
Motherhood overwhelmed me. Daily hysterical crying fits, erratic thoughts and distracted conversations defined me after my daughter was born. My identity was shattered – is this what it meant to be a mom? Should I feel guilty for not doing the dishes and folding the laundry if I am at home and my husband is at work? How could I feel so incredibly lucky and horrifically tired at the same time? I would look down at the sleeping baby in my arms and weep out of joy for being so blessed. And in the lonely hours of endless night/morning, I would weep out of misery from the hell of my own making. Because, after all, I had planned this.
Time passed, night by sleepless night, and I slowly started to feel the haze lift; and with it, some of my weird idiosyncrasies. Suddenly, it didn’t matter if I was 5 minutes late for something; if I left the house in a mismatched outfit; if my husband put the kitchen towels in the bathroom cabinet and vice versa. Believe it when I say that this was a big step from the “old me.”
In thinking of all the ways motherhood could change me, I never would have guessed that this process would have made me a better person. Motherhood has given my life purpose, shown me the true meaning of unconditional love and added much needed perspective. Becoming a more grounded, patient, understanding and less controlling individual are really just bonuses.
I tried to warn you about this, but there’s just no way until you experience it. I was up with you constantly, & you only took little mini naps throughout the day (usually in the snugli). My La Leche friends all told me this was normal, even when you were nearing 2 years of age. They thought nothing of nursing until 4 or older! Plus you wouldn’t eat baby food (just french fries). I continued to teach flute & play in symphony while your father was gone every 3rd night & most of the time otherwise. Babysitter time. One car. I used to resent him for having enough time to read the newspaper. But I never left you long enough for you to miss a “meal” for 2 years. It was like we were one person, & that continued until your darling little sister was born.