I recently shared the story of meeting my husband Blaine at my best friend’s wedding, which led to our whirlwind romance. What followed was a shotgun wedding 3 months later, a move to another state together, and a rocky first year of marriage. Then my husband was deployed to Afghanistan for 7 months.
Sometimes it’s easy to think the world owes you something – like after a series of rough events your “due” for a future of smooth sailing. But unfortunately that’s not how life works. Not for me, at least. Like marriage, motherhood was also something I had to “grow into.” I had no idea being a mother would be this hard.
The raw, unfiltered truth is that motherhood, like marriage, tends to be overly romanticized. Yes, it’s a beautiful experience, but it can also be a very painful one. Motherhood can be exhausting and depressing. When Blaine and I welcomed our first daughter Kate into the world, I had a really difficult time. For the first five months, I struggled with Post Partum Depression and the very real uncertainty of whether I should even be a mom.
I kept waiting for that magical “baby bliss” to hit, only to be disappointed. I finally realized that sometimes it doesn’t happen all at once. Yet, sometimes it’s more of a growing process.
Furthermore, I have never experienced a more challenging job that truly requires my time 24/7. Initially, I wasn’t emotionally willing of the selflessness it calls for. But despite my uncertainties and fears, I did my best every day to stay strong and have faith that God always has a plan. I would tell myself, “he hasn’t made a mistake yet” – every challenge I’d faced up until that point had always lead me somewhere better. It forced me to grow and become a stronger, better version of myself. Certainly, this would too.
On the days where I was at my limit of frustration, I would take a deep breath and remind myself, she will not always be so little, so innocent, or so in need of her mama. I reminded myself to count my blessings during those 3AM wake up calls. I reminded myself to be thankful for this gift and for the health of my baby girl. Most importantly, I reminded myself to chose love. As with most things, time helped immensely. Then, nine months ago, I gave birth to my second daughter, Claire.
I started off not “loving” either of my girls in the way I thought I would. But it’s because they were strangers. It takes time to build relationships with strangers – even if your body grew and nourished them.
The biggest lesson I’ve learned is to stop stressing about what I “should” be feeling, and to take it one day at a time. That deep love and connection did come, and I’m thankful that now I have it with both of my girls.
I was a little anxious going into the transition of balancing two kids instead of one, but it was much easier the second time around. My body was already used to it – it had given birth before. And even though my daily routine grew even busier, I was already used to running on less sleep and waking up several times at night. I was used to my days being filled with my girls’ needs – the smiles, the cries, the falling asleep in my arms after finishing a bottle.
I’ve had 2 years to process how to be selfless and now I’m much more willing and giving. I no longer stress over nighttime wake-ups, toddler nightmares, and clingy babes. I don’t beat myself up anymore for choosing formula instead of breastfeeding, not sticking to a perfect schedule, or not starting solids on time.
I’ve realized that what my girls need most is just for me to be present with them. They don’t care what I look like, or about my soft belly and unshaven legs. They don’t notice that it’s day two of my unwashed hair or that I’m wearing the same outfit for the third day in a row. They just want my presence. My love.
Meeting Blaine and marrying him was a rollercoaster. Motherhood was and is a rollercoaster. Life in general is a constant uphill battle of growth, challenge, and change. But I’ve learned to live for those moments of joy – those moments when there’s spaghetti splattered across the walls and all you want to do is cry, but instead you and your husband burst into laughter, causing your two girls to start laughing, and all of a sudden the whole room has erupted into laughter.