3 Things I Did to Help me Love Being a Mom
My parenting journey started out a little rough. I threw up at all times of the day for the first 5 months of pregnancy. I only gained about 10 pounds, and I did not feel amazing.
When my son was born, my whole world was turned upside down. I was in for a huge surprise. I knew that being a parent would be hard. What I did not know was that, not only did I have to nurture and keep another human alive, but that I was going to have to do this while my body was still torn apart. I remember vividly the moment I first stood up from my hospital bed and a large puddle of blood splattered on the floor. I looked at it in horror. Why the heck did that just happen? Little did I know I would be bleeding and sore for the next 4-6 weeks. Why had no one told me about this?
Some other unexpected things came with parenting. Relationships, which had previously been perfectly in tact, became a little frayed based on parenting technique differences. This was hard to come to terms with.
On top of this, I just didn’t feel amazing. And it took a full year for me to start feeling like myself again. Along the way I felt lost. I had lost my identity. I had lost the person that I once was, and I was having a hard time finding value in the person that I now was. The person that listened to a child’s screams all day long… and again all-night. The person who was sleep deprived. The person who had forgotten what she enjoyed doing for herself. With so much survival going on, it was hard to remember that I was a person who had interests and purpose. I had forgotten what it was that made me happy.
I realized one day that this was not the way that I wanted to live the rest of my life. I needed to find me again. I needed to find joy again. I reached out in every place I knew. I would look at other mothers who seemed to have it all together and really try to figure out what they had going on that made them love parenting, and I did everything I could to find those missing pieces. When it came down to it, there were three key things that made the change in me.
1. I wrote down positive moments,
whenever I could find them.
One day, I bought a giant poster board and put it right in the middle of my living room. On it, in big, bold letters I wrote, “Why I love being a mom”. And then whenever something inside me would spark, and I would feel something other than the dull pain that was my constant companion, I would write it on the poster board. Some days I found a few things to write about, and other days I really had to dig really deep to be able to find anything at all.
Little by little, I was able to gain more clarity, and I started to realize that my new life was not quite as bad as I thought it was. I started to realize that although the bright and shiny moments were not always evident, they were definitely there, but I just had to look for them.
2. I found something for me and only me
By accident, I got into photography. This was a big step for me. I was able to do something for myself, while also including my child. Something magical happened when I saw my child through the lens of my camera. Something about practicing composing the picture correctly to keep the eyes sharp, made me realize how amazingly stunning his eyes were. Trying to capture his sweet moments made me realize how beautiful and capable these tiny hands were, and how a simple touch from them would brighten my day. Learning photography was something that really brought everything into a beautiful, bright, new perspective for me. It was also something that I could do to fill the long, lonely days with something that was not only just on keeping my child alive. I was finding ways to entertain him, while being able to focus on my own personal development.
3. I focused on my own unique skills in parenting
While it is easy to judge ourselves against the seemingly perfect lives of others, it is also important to focus on our own unique skills and attributes that we have. Our children were given to us for a reason, and we can use the past experiences that we have had to build up our own homes.
As my son grew, I started to realize my own unique skills in parenting. I have never been able to sit on the floor and play for long amounts of time. I applaud the mothers who can, but that is just not me. What I can do, though, partly because of my teaching background, is to sit on the floor and teach. I decided to use those skills that I had and create a variation on a theme, if you will. I decided to make learning our activity we would do together. I would make flashcards, I would make games, I would make educational wall art, and we would learn together.
I have since learned that focusing on what I can do as a parent is much more productive than focusing on what I cannot do. These children were sent to me for a reason, and I get to raise them with the skills that I have.
As I have applied these three things in my life over the years, I have been able to go from a dark place in parenting to truly being passionate about my role in motherhood. The change did not come quickly, but it came when I needed it. I am not going to pretend that there are never times that I struggle with motherhood, but I am going to say that I have never returned to that point where I used to be. I have also learned the skills necessary to help me out of the hard moments when they do creep in, and I know you can use them as well.