how I learned to enjoy motherhood

I enjoy motherhood, but it took me three years!

The thought came out of nowhere, I was enjoying motherhood. Finally.

It was a Saturday morning. I was coloring with my 3 yo daughter. Usually, weekends meant getting through the week’s pending work and preparing for the next. But this day was different.

Because I was ignoring the ticking clock in my head and was helping my daughter embrace creativity.

The realization dawned on me that it wasn’t a chore to get through, so I could feel like a good mother. I was in all honesty, enjoying it. My daughter’s enthusiasm for a 3-year-old at having mom color with her was the wake-up call. It took me three years to be able to relax and enjoy motherhood.

Because I wasn’t playing the role of a mother anymore. I had become ‘the mother’. 

I wasn't playing the role of the mother, I was enjoying motherhood

Why it took 3 years, you wonder?

Shouldn’t it just happen the minute she was born? I should have just developed a gut instinct on love and fallen into the role of a mother who bakes cookies and dresses in mom jeans. By the way, who thought mom jeans was a good idea, must have really lost their mind! Any mother worth her labor scars will tell you its anything but that.

The day a woman gives birth, her life ceases to be anything like it was before; the previous day, the previous night, even the previous hour.

Her body has changed, often irreversibly. How she spends her time, her decisions, all of her choices are no longer her’s alone. A little person who can’t even form words yet has now got a say in it. Sometimes even more of a say than herself. She has to adjust to all of that, no questions asked. Expectations, including her own, demand that she falls into this role like love at first sight. But it’s rarely ever that easy, right?

Since the moment I held my little girl in my arms, I felt an immense responsibility towards her. The natural urge to give the best possible care to my child conflicted with my unpreparedness for it. There was love, yes, but something was missing. It was the kind of love where you don’t have an alternative. Expectations dictated my love for her, more than joy.

Time passed, she grew and so did the demands on me. I kept waiting for the load to get easier or lighter but it only got heavier and tougher as she grew. Fear of failing as a mother filled me, alongside battling resentment over not being able to return to my previous life.

The life that I had started to miss.

Nobody prepares you for that. No mother can do justice in expressing how hard it is juggling and understanding so many changes that keep coming without respite. I wanted to get back to my previous roles in society, to other relationships that seemed to have been kept on hold or even disconnected.

I longed to fit into my pre-baby clothes. Sleepless nights that involved fun were history replaced by endless circles of crying and rocking. Conversations with adults that didn’t revolve around my baby were something I craved like air on somedays. She had inadvertently become the center of my world, the topic on the tip of my tongue. Simply put, I didn’t know how motherhood was supposed to be enjoyed!

I went online and found other moms who were struggling with the same feelings. According to WebMD, there is logical reasoning behind this. Here’s another mom who shares her story on Motherly.

Despite all these feelings and thoughts flitting about in my head like a trapped butterfly, I was a good mother (according to the books). I took care of every need and demand she had. Entertained her, carried her, and I talked to her when she couldn’t even respond more than some coos.

I took the colic, and vomits and non-stop crying like a wrestler takes the punches dealt in the ring. All the while, I kept holding onto the thought that ‘this too shall pass’ and moved through life, one day at a time. As for time, it does have a way of passing by quickly even when we feel like every second is dragging itself on a snail’s back.

Before I could even adjust to all this, I was pregnant again. This time, a boy. Can you imagine how the demands increased exponentially?

I had my own motherhood manual

But I could sense a change in me like a caterpillar discovers it has grown wings.

This time around I knew what to expect. I had my personal ‘motherhood manual’. I had learned the language of the cries and could respond without going insane. My daughter needed me much more than before and I tried to meet the needs of a toddler and a newborn.  After all, I was to be a good mother.

But deep inside myself I still felt the emptiness, the discontent, the un-explainable quest for something more. I kept having thoughts of returning to work even though I couldn’t have at the time. Despite being busy all day, I didn’t feel productive. I wanted to desperately shun the thought that having an income was the answer but long-term conditioning rarely vanishes so easily. So I tried a few freelance projects. The money came but the feeling of discontent remained.

The time spent writhing and waiting in my growth cocoon was a time of accepting new perspectives. It dawned on me that for three years, I was looking at motherhood from the wrong angle. It isn’t just a role to play or a task list to accomplish. Being a mom is a part of my identity, that I own.

Alongside being myself, albeit a new person, I am ‘Mom’.

It’s not to say that my individuality is laid to rest. It’s not to say that I can no longer have dreams of my own. But it means that my children are my extension and need to be loved as I would love myself.

So now when I spend time teaching my daughter, it doesn’t sprout from a place of responsibility but that of love.

If my personal goals delay, I don’t resent them. I can enjoy motherhood for I used that time to play with my children. When I spend a day coloring and laughing instead of rushing through all the checklists, it doesn’t fill me with guilt. Rather it makes me happy.

To be in that moment making memories I would want to remember long after.

I now understand that ‘this too shall pass’ and I won’t get to go back to the time when my kids could fit into my lap.

A time will come when they would be flitting about like butterflies, meeting the demands that will be placed on them. I enjoy the little moments like watching them sleep and listening to their endless chatter. I linger in their baths and dance and sing with no worries.

Truly, its now that I believe I am a good mother. Kids are people to nurture not projects to complete. I have said no to perfection and yes to spontaneity.

Yes, it took me a while to reach here, but I did and that’s what’s important.

Even more important is that, I am loved back more than I ever imagined.

I’d love to hear your thoughts too! Comment below. Thanks!

Hello, I am Sheryl. I am turning into a master juggler with two toddlers, my writing and creativity explorations tossed among other things as I try to make sense of life's many puzzles. On my blog, 'Sherbeth', join me in exploring all of life's flavours; sweet, bitter and everything in between.

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