A Story on Transitioning to Motherhood
For some of us, transitions come fairly easily. For others of us, transitions are painfully hard. And for many of us, the kind of transition we’re making determines the difficulty of the transition.
For me the difficulty depends on the transition. I know many friends who had a very difficult time transitioning away from their hometown for the first time. Whether going to college, moving for a new job or a new spouse, the first few months (or years) were very trying for them. I didn’t have a particularly hard time when we moved two hours away from our hometown or when we moved sixteen hours away. This isn’t because I’m better or more mature than my friends. We all have things that are harder or easier for us. I was just thankful that this transition wasn’t too hard.
But transitioning to motherhood, that was hard for me. Very hard. If you’re one of those people who transitions to everything easily or one who transitioned to motherhood easily, be thankful. If this post doesn’t make sense to you because you didn’t struggle then I am genuinely happy for you that the transition to motherhood came so naturally. But if becoming a mom was or is hard for you in similar or completely different ways than it was for me, this post is to remind you you’re not alone.
After six years of marriage my husband and I decided to start a family and were fortunate that we got pregnant very quickly. My pregnancy was quite rough and landed me on strict bed rest for four months. But our daughter was born full term and healthy as could be. We were thrilled.
The next few months were typical of life with a newborn: constant nursing, little sleep, lots of diaper changes and occasional showering. I had known it would be exhausting and the exhaustion part wasn’t what was so hard. It was how much my life had changed. I struggled with my identity. I struggled with my pride. I realized how much I measured my worth by academics and a paycheck. I knew what I was doing was important but some days I wondered why.
And then there was the guilt. You see, I loved my little girl in a way I had never loved anyone else. Her first smile overwhelmed me with happiness. Cuddling with her while she nursed and searched for my hand with her tiny fingers felt like the most peaceful thing on earth. I loved her. I loved being with her. I loved taking care of her. But it was hard.
And I hated that it was hard for me. I wondered why it was so hard taking care of someone I loved so much. I wondered why something that millions of women had done before me was so difficult for me. I wondered if there was something wrong with me since I wasn’t enjoying every minute of it.
But it got easier. Partly because she got bigger, nursed less often and we got more sleep. But mainly because I started to let go of the idea that motherhood is about perfection or always wanting to do everything that needs to be done. And I mainly learned this by interacting with other honest moms who had struggled themselves. Some of them were friends going through the same thing. Others had children who were long grown and told me they remembered how hard caring for young children can be. And some of the reason it got easier was because I found like-minded people online who had shared their stories. I devoured Steady Mom’s wisdom and soaked up the information I found at Simple Mom. I gleaned tips from these sites and used them to make simple changes to make my days smoother and easier. But mostly I read them to feel like I was normal.
And that’s why I’m sharing my story. Maybe you’ll read this tonight while you’re nursing at 2am. Maybe you’ll find this in a couple months while looking for confirmation that you’re not the only mom who’s had a hard time figuring out this whole mom thing. And when you do, I hope you know you’re not alone.