My first born turned five years old last week. Naturally, I spent the night before her birthday bawling as I scrolled through all the baby photos taken in those first few weeks. I get so excited watching my brilliant little girl grow up, but would also like time to just slow down a bit please and thank you. (Motherhood is complicated!)
Among the very first photos after my daughter’s arrival, is a selfie taken about 12 hours into motherhood. I’m cradling my squishy new baby (and her impressive head of hair) as she sleeps peacefully. I look so content. I was so content. But it didn’t last for long enough.
There we were, my daughter and I, safe and snug in the bubble. Before the visitors arrived, and the advice (often unsolicited) was given. Before opinions were heard and pressure was imposed. Before the frustration and confusion, followed by guilt and tears, mixed with sleep deprivation. Before the bubble burst so abruptly.
I truly believe that led me to a tough beginning in parenthood. Tougher than it needed to be. At times, I wish I could go back and do it again. Bottle that baby smell and hold my daughter without interruption for hours on end. Not succumb to pressure – from myself and others. Go back and give myself (and my baby) a break. Lower the expectations and just surrender. Slow down. Tell myself to listen to no-one but myself (and my baby). Reassure that everything is as it should be. It’s all going to be OK. Listen to myself, my baby, my intuition. And have the confidence to do all that. I wish I knew then what I know now. Hindsight, eh.
My experience, however, has helped me. When my second child was born two-and-a-half years later, I stayed in the bubble much longer. Visits were declined, notifications turned off, chores left, stuff delegated, standards dropped, expectations lowered, breaths lengthened and slowed, the words “baby bubble” repeated to myself and others. I was determined to keep that bubble from bursting as quickly as it did the first time. And it made a big difference.
My first year of motherhood taught me to do that. It helped me get to that point, this point and beyond. So I’m making peace (or learning to) with that time and remembering all the good – of which there is a ton. I am grateful for the experiences that have brought me to where I am now in life and parenthood – with the two best kids in the world (definitely not biased).
So biggest thanks to my kiddos, my greatest teachers. Their not-so-subtle nudging is helping shape me into the kind of person I want to be and am meant to be. Into more me and less who I used to think I should be. And Happy 5th Birthday to The Best Girl. (No, YOU’RE crying.)