Wednesday, September 4, 2013

So is a mother

Last fall, a couple months after my son was born, I heard the saying "When a child is born, so is a mother" for the first time. Of course, mothers can be born in more ways than one, but I think the point is that new mothers, like newborn babies, go through an intense process of growth and change. No one would ever expect a baby to have life figured out from the day he emerges, but sometimes, mothers expect this of themselves. So for me, the phrase is a reminder that I'm really no older than my son when it comes to motherhood. The thought has followed me all throughout the past year, my first year, and it came to me again last week, surrounded by cupcakes and wrapping paper, as we ushered in our sweet boy's second year of life.

It was his birthday, but it was mine too, in a way. I turned one-year old last week in my mama heart and that's about as unsteady as I feel today. I'm still just getting on my feet with this whole business, but I have learned a lot, too. It has been so much harder than I thought it would be, in all the ways I didn't expect. Sure there are the sleepless nights and nursing struggles and endless diaper changes, but for me, the difficulty has come mostly in what I have had to give up.

People always say that in marriage your spouse is like a mirror, reflecting yourself back to you. And sure. He is. I get that. But I've never seen myself so clearly as I do each day around 4:00 p.m., when the naps have been taken, the snacks have been given, the husband won't be home for another hour at least, and the baby is sitting on the floor completely unsatisfied with the way things are going. And here's what I see in the mirror: I am needy.

At least once a day I feel the need for solitude, reflection, exercise, companionship, and food. I also regularly feel the need to read, write, create, be outdoors, and shower. Then there is the need for accomplishment, for getting things done and checking them off my list, which usually involves mundane tasks like laundry, dishes, cooking, or grocery shopping. I also have this pesky little need for contributing, both to my community and to the larger world, which is forever buzzing silently around my face like a gnat. On any given day, my son's needs, which primarily involve food and/or my full attention, are usually at odds with at least half, if not all, of these.

So you can see my dilemma. Not all my needs can be met every day. If I'm lucky, I can pick two or three to indulge in during the sacred hours of nap time, but even that luxury will disappear in a couple of years and I'll begin compacting my neediness into the holy edges of the day, into early mornings and late nights. But maybe by then, as my son gets older and finds his footing, I will find my strength too, and my needs will not feel quite so desperate. For now at least, though, I am just giving myself grace in the neediness, because as my son learns to grow and move and communicate, I am learning a lot too, like how to put someone else first every time and not hate it. So I am trying to show as much compassion for myself in this as I do for the needs of my baby. It's only been a year after all. We are still just a couple of one-year olds at this.

*linking up with Imperfect Prose*


  1. I LOVE this post friend. The title is awesome, and your realness and reflections are too. I'm going to highlight it on my blog under "stuff i dig." Bless you! e.

    1. Thanks so much, Emily! I really appreciate that.

  2. I absolutely love this post also. Love the photos too :)
    Thanks, Charlotte