At the end of March, my daughter turned one. Leading up to that emotional, joyful day, I found myself thinking, “Wow, one year down! One year of the hardest job I’ve ever had is already behind me…how can that be?!” We spend nine long months growing another human within our own body and then we blink and that tiny human is a year old! To be brutally honest, motherhood was no easy transition for me; but boy have I learned a lot in this past year.
I can’t control everything.
Being a self-acknowledged control freak and type A personality, this was and still is the hardest lesson for me. I’m used to being in total control of what I do, when I do it and how I do it; but raising a child is quite the opposite. I can’t control every single aspect of being a mom because things are just going to happen, and that is okay. My need for control stems from wanting to protect my daughter, but I’ve learned there is a balance. It’s natural to want to protect her but I don’t have to, nor can I, manage everything and everyone around me in order to do so.
Having a child is like no love you’ve ever experienced.
While I was pregnant, I had a friend tell me that having a child is like having your heart walk around outside your body. I didn’t fully understand that analogy until “my heart” was born. Immediately, I felt a new sense of love and vulnerability unlike anything I had ever experienced. I find myself struggling to put into words exactly what that love feels like because the truth is, it can’t be explained. From the moment they are born, you feel every single thing they feel, you love them with every ounce of your being, including parts you didn’t even know existed, and you want nothing more than to protect them at all cost.
Your love for your partner grows in an unexplainable way.
Moments after the birth of our daughter, I was wheeled into the recovery room to witness my husband and brand new baby girl sharing the sweetest daddy-daughter moment as he held her for the first time, beaming with joy from ear-to-ear. It was in that immediate moment that I had looked at him in a completely new way. Sure, he was that handsome, endearing, selfless man I married, but it was at that moment that I knew he was everything I could have ever dreamed of. While I had that same feeling when I walked down the aisle towards him, this time it was different. There was something in the way he so effortlessly moved into being a dad that made my heart burst and stomach flutter as if I was meeting him for the first time all over again. Watching him become a dad so seamlessly has made me realize how lucky I am to love and be loved by someone as remarkable as him.
You don’t need to defend yourself or your actions.
As soon as I became a parent, I found myself feeling the need to rationalize every decision and action to others. For instance, when I would mention my daughter is on formula, I would immediately follow-up with the novel that explained why. But really, what I should have been doing was asking myself “Why?” Why do I feel the need to defend myself when I discuss my parenting decisions? We live in a society where people frequently speak their opinions and aren’t always open-minded to opposing ones. I have had to learn what others think shouldn’t matter; because at the end of the day, I am the mother of my child and will make decisions based on what is best for her and our family, regardless of what others think.
It’s all going to be okay.
My first year of motherhood was a rollercoaster: full of unexpected twists and turns, high-highs and low-lows. I had days where I cried constantly wondering if I was meant for this and days where I wanted nothing more than to have a house full of a hundred more children. What I’ve learned is not all days are going to be sunshine and roses, or should I say poopy diapers and snotty noses. Just like a rollercoaster, there are going to be ups and downs that seem frightening and exhilarating, but you make it through each one; just like motherhood. When I think back on this first year, I find my memories latching onto the positives and realizing that though the ride seems terrifying, it’s all going to be okay.