Motherhood at Six Months

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There were moments in the early months when thought the people who talk about how much “fun” parenting is must seriously be crazy.

At times, parenthood feels like living in a world where your own thoughts, wants, or needs are controlled by a tiny pause button, namely, your baby. And at times, this does not feel good. For me, it’s been one of the hardest adjustments. However, the “fun” thing?

I get it now.

Evan’s smiles make my day. His giggles are infectious and define pure joy more than anything I’ve ever experienced.

He is curious and skeptical and careful with who gets smiles, yet he is friendly and enjoys meeting new people.

I’m partial, but he is seriously the funniest baby I’ve ever met. He makes me laugh like his daddy does, so we know where he got it…

At six months, I love:

  • reclining in the chair in the nursery with a light blanket, a cup of coffee, iBooks, and Evan dozing in my arms
  • wearing him on our adventures (mostly Target at this point, but looking to change that this summer )
  • his light-up-the-room smile whenever he sees me (it’s mutual)
  • our best days, when there is no agenda (and mommy gets to eat breakfast)
  • Eau de Evan

That last one, there? Seriously…there is no better smell on earth than your baby. I will remember this until the day I die and it is one of those things I just cannot do justice to by description. It’s powerful and biological and raw and pure; it is such a magical part of the connection we have, and  I just never expected it would mean so much to me.

So far, figuring out who I am as a mama seems like a lifelong journey, which I also wasn’t expecting. In the last six months I have had some of the most difficult and wonderful days and weeks of my life. There are many aspects of this new role, this new life, this new identity that feel like un-molded clay, but it also seems some elements are taking shape, and slowly, I am feeling more and more like “myself” with each passing week.

Above all the hormones and mood swings and overwhelming feelings, I know one thing without a doubt: I love this tiny human more than I ever thought possible, and that love grows each and every day, just like he does.

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Motherhood at Five Months

Time is flying and I feel like I’ve been caught in some kind of cyclone this past month. This time of year is always busy, especially when I’m on the job market, but adding a baby to the mix this time around has been interesting.  John and Evan both came down with something the same exact week I had an on-campus interview and I felt the weight of my choice to be a working mama in the most acute way I have as of yet.

In my worst moments, I honestly just wanted to sit down on the floor and CRY.

In my best moments, I simulatenously sucked snot (this is a lifesaver), did solo around the clock childcare for a few days, tended to John (who was down-in-bed sick), let our dogs in and out 5,000 times, worked on my interview presentation materials, kept the house liveably-clean, met with 50 students for individual conferences, caught up on grading (for like, one day), ran all of our usual errands as well as some additional ones, and made it to my interview having by some miracle of immunity, not gotten sick. All of that taught me a few things:

  • I seriously, seriously respect and am in awe of single, working mothers. I mean, seriously. Wow.
  • John’s help was definitely missed for those few days, which showed me he really does do so much for me and for Evan. I am good at seeing what’s left to be done, but we’d both benefit if I spend more mental energy appreciating what has already been done. 
  • We made it. It was a rough week, but we made it. And we always will…somehow or another.
  • This is only just the beginning of baby sickness, (and correlating parent sickness). As parents we need to take very good of care of ourselves. Continuing to make small changes in diet and lifestyle will help us warn off as much illness as possible. Bottom line: taking care of ourselves is a family affair now.

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In general, I’ve had an interesting relationship with my new mama role this month. I’m not really sure what to make of all of it yet, but I feel like I’m on the cusp of something both challenging and good. E is more fun and more work than he’s been so far. I am busier than I’ve been since he was born, and know life is only going to get busier. I’m feeling the pull between my personal passions and goals, and the expectations I’ve set for myself as a mom (some of which are probably unrealistic, especially as a working mom). I’m wondering way too often if all the conflicting things I’m feeling are “normal” despite that I know they are. There are days where I think I might just not be cut out for this motherhood thing, and then there are days where, usually when reminded, I realize just how natural/primal so much of my nurturing and caring for Evan truly is.

One of my former bosses told me “motherhood is a mirror” in that it helps us see ourselves more clearly. All the good and all the not so good things are amplified. I think we all have different challenges to face, but that clarity in who we are as people is at once how motherhood makes us infinitely better, as well as helps us realize how precisely flawed we are.

I made the choice to become a mother, and I am thankful for my beautiful, healthy, happy little boy every single day. No ifs, ands or buts about that. However, I am far from having all of this even remotely figured out, and my ability to live with the imperfection, to choose to adjust and learn and adapt, is how I know motherhood has improved me. And it’s also how I know I still have lots of room to grow…right along with our little guy.

Having a Moment

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I was listening to music while playing w/ E this morning and this song came on, and it totally made me pause.

Figuring out what this new love is in my heart, and learning, emotionally, the magnitude of the feelings, also all new, that I have had since becoming a mom have been impossible for me to put into words yet… There is a tenderness, and a scary strength to it all.

And this song totally, totally captures exactly how I feel. We stopped playing, and I just held him, and cried. They were happy tears, and he smiled at me – an image that was instantly burned in my brain: his smile through my blurry eyes. And of course I smiled back.

Suddenly I could see the future: holding his hand as he learns to walk, comforting him after a bad dream, picking him up into a giant hug after school, learning to let go when he’s a teenager, helping him pack up his room to go to college, dropping him off somewhere alone and new and just hoping all we did was enough, waiting on baited breath for his return on school breaks, cheering for him during graduation, dancing with him at his wedding, and someday, if I’m really, really lucky, getting to hold a grandchild. It’s crazy, I know. He’s not even three months old. But I could see it all. A child is a hope. And hope is a light in the darkness of everything. His future can be anything he wants it to be, but that love from his mama? That’s not going to ever change.

It seems this parenthood gig is all about learning to hold on tightly at the start, despite knowing that you’ll have to later learn to let go. And in the process I imagine it’s about growing as much as our children do. I feel like that’s already happening on so many levels.

I listened to this song a few more times and danced around the room with E, while singing it, and I meant every word. I have always thought this song was beautiful, but as a mom, it was like hearing it for the very first time. And it meant so much to me, because it’s everything I haven’t been able to say, or maybe even to admit that I feel. It’s so big, and so simple.

“To Make You Feel My Love” – Bob Dylan cover by Adele