Celebrating the mom you are today

When my daughter was born 4-1/2 years ago, I had almost exactly 24 hours of labor with her.  When a friend of ours asked about it later, he didn’t understand it.  He couldn’t imagine doing anything nonstop for 24 hours.  He was right.  It was hard.  Labor is called labor for a reason; however, looking back now with presence of mind and having had a decent night of sleep last night, I call that 24 hours nothing compared to what was coming our way.  The next few weeks passed in an absolute blur.  Our daughter had a feeding issue that complicated things.  I had a few small complications myself.  And we were in the shock of new parenthood.

Seasoned parents try to warn others before they become parents.  But, you can’t be completely prepared for parenthood until it is thrust upon you.  You can’t be prepared for being completely in charge of another little human being all the time, around the clock.  You can’t be prepared for the newborn crying.  You can’t be prepared for the complete and utter loss of self.  You just can’t — until you experience it.

When our son was born at the beginning of last year, we knew more what we were in for.  We were already in parent mode.  Of course, he brought his own challenges and I spent a lot of nights awake with him all night able to sleep for maybe two hours before my preschooler was up for the day.  Looking back now, I’m not sure how I survived sometimes.  It really was rough.

This was Mother's Day in 2010, which was my first Mother's Day after my daughter was born.

No question about it, parenthood is hard from the very beginning.  Labor is nothing compared to what follows thereafter.  Now I can look back at those early days with our daughter and smile.  I can almost manage a smile thinking of my son’s early days (I need a bit more time away from them for the PTSD to dissipate completely).  And when I smile I think how we really didn’t know what we were in for the first time and not completely the second time.  You can’t know ahead of time.

I also think of how far we’ve come as parents, my husband and I.  We’ve found our groove.  We don’t always get it right.  We still get thrown off balance when new issues arise and know that we’ve got lots and lots ahead of us.  But, I have fully become a mom.  It’s so much a part of who I am that I can’t get away from it even when I’m not around my children.

I speculate that another reason people can’t remember their infant days is because they’d never have faith in their parents.  The mother I am to my children today is a completely different mother than I started out as.  Now I have experience under my belt.  Now I understand my kids better, especially the older one, but I’m learning more about the toddler each day.  Now I am more relaxed.  I don’t worry so much when the 15-month-old picks up a cracker he just dropped on the floor and pops it in his mouth.  I don’t cry nearly so much out of exhaustion and frustration these days.  My daughter and son see me as a mom.  I am a mom.  I’ve become a mom completely.  I often catch myself saying and doing things that remind me of my own mother.  I realize the way I think of my parents is the way my kids are going to think of my husband and me.  They’ll know us first and foremost as mom and dad because that’s who we are to them.

Sometimes I’m a bit taken aback by this.  It’s still a bit weird to me that I’m someone’s mom, but it’s becoming less and less weird.  Those moments are fewer and farther between.  In fact, I am now often identified solely by my relationship to my children.  Just last week someone called me “Drake’s mom” and I’ve been called “Lexiana’s mom” time and again.  It’s OK.  I’d like to tell you that I miss being just Stacey.  Sometimes I do, I suppose, but not nearly as much as I love being Lexiana and Drake’s mom.  They are my life’s work.  They are my masterpieces.  They are the most valuable, greatest thing I have ever done.  Ever.  I am honored and proud to be their mother.

And Mother's Day last year, my first one after my son was born. I had maybe two hours of sleep the night before.

I’ve never talked to more strangers and store clerks in my life as I do now.  People fawn over my children.  They are adorable children.  They are both pretty darn well behaved.  They are charming and sweet.  My daughter’s red curly hair draws them in.  My son’s big brown eyes draw them in.  And they talk to us.  It was weird to me at first as an shy person who is an introvert, but now I mostly embrace it.  Yeah, check out my kids.  Aren’t they awesome?  I’m so proud of them!  Go ahead and fawn over them.  I’ll wait.

This is the stuff I’m thinking about as Mother’s Day approaches this year.  My very first Mother’s Day was five years ago when I was pregnant with my daughter.  I just started to feel her stirring in my belly back then.  It was awesome.  I didn’t know what I was in for.  If I went back to talk to my pregnant self five years ago, I’m not sure I’d say much.  Because I couldn’t really truly prepare her for what was coming.  And maybe I wouldn’t want to.  I’ve been through some battlefields of labor and motherhood.  I’ve gotten some scars along the way, both visible and otherwise.  All of those things have made me the mother I am today.  I am more confident in raising my children.  I know I can handle all sorts of things that get thrown my way because I have no choice.  I know that I can be pushed to my limits and way beyond and still function because a helpless tiny person is depending on me.

I’ve made progress on this journey.  I’ve shared a lot of it with you on this blog and will continue to do so.  I thank you for being on this journey with me.  I hope that somewhere along the way I’ve helped you on your journey a time or two as well or at the very least made you laugh as I learn one lesson after another.  I know that I have way more seasoning to undergo as a mother.  I pray that I can handle it all with grace and love.  But for this Mother’s Day, I’m just going to celebrate the progress I’ve made thus far and you should, too, no matter where you are in your motherhood journey.  Maybe you’ve just begun and think you won’t make it through the newborn days (you will, I promise!) or maybe you’re preparing to send your youngest child off to college and think you won’t be able to bear the empty house (if my parents are an indication, you will!) or maybe you’re like me and somewhere in the middle.  No matter where you are, take a few moments to celebrate how far you’ve come and how you’ve evolved in your motherhood journey.  You are strong and capable and loved.  You, mama, are awesome!  Happy Mother’s Day!

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