The past seventeen days have been full of life; who knew so much pain, progress, fear, joy, and love existed? The first few weeks of motherhood have drawn forth a new version of myself, and continues to teach me meaningful lessons every day. Here are a few.
1.) I’m amazed at my body
Before yoga, it was all about what my body looked like. Then, it was all about what I could do. Now, my body amazes me because of what it can do without any help whatsoever from me: from birthing my baby to creating the food he needs to waking me up at his softest whimper at 3 am, it can do some mind-boggling things without any help from my mind.
2.) I’m more helpless and more capable than I ever have been
I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that I just can’t control everything. It’s a lesson I should have learned a long time ago, but instead of making peace with it, I’ve harbored resentments and lived with unhappiness over things I couldn’t control. Now that Finn is out in the world with many needs and an unpredictable schedule, (not to mention the millions of potential hazards of being a baby) serenity is simply necessary. Also, as his primary caregiver, I sometimes feel unstoppable – when we saw that he gained two pounds in two weeks, for example, I felt a sort of new pride that I can only assume comes from being a parent providing adequately for her child.
3.) I feel closer to the Divine
As a result of feeling more helpless, I’ve needed to rely on a higher power more than before. In labor, I was calling out to Jesus – and I meant it. I needed something bigger than myself to see me through that pain. Now, at night, when I catch my breath just so I can hear his, I need to pray just so I can reaffirm how thankful I am to have Finn, and try again to wrap my mind around how much he means to me.
4.) I’ve discovered a new kind of love for my husband
Ryan has played lots of roles in my life since we’ve met: friend, boyfriend, husband – now we add “father” to the list. Not only has he faithfully taken over the 5 am feeding for me so I can sleep for three consecutive hours, he’ll often appear at the nursery door if Finn is having a particularly hard diaper change (his least favorite) or bring me a glass of water while we’re nursing, or just pick Finn up and stare at him, all the love of the world in his eyes and smile.
5.) …and family
They’ve taken time off work, traveled in the middle of the night, made meals, bought groceries, given clothes, cleaned my kitchen, watched the baby while I’ve napped and showered, and loved their grandson/nephew so very well. I’ve always loved my family and in-laws, but now that we all share a new relative, I feel so much closer to them.
6.) I’m more driven to do my part to create a just world
My mom was the one who told me about the Charleston shootings the morning after they happened. I could do nothing but close my eyes and let the sadness wash over me; I think the news of this latest hate crime affected me even more now that I am responsible for shaping another person’s moral structure. What are we going to do as a white family to demonstrate our allegiance with the black community we live in? How are we going to show our son that we don’t just abhor these race-related crimes, we actively work against them? What places can we go and people we can surround ourselves with who share our view of a loving world? The questions are coming more urgently, and I’m more driven to seek out the answers than I’ve ever been before.
During pregnancy, I sometimes worried that I would lose myself in my new role, or become some faded version of the vibrant person I was. I could have saved myself from that – whatever motherhood has taken from me, it’s given me so much more in return.