The Expectations of Motherhood…
Motherhood didn’t come easy for me. I don’t mean the whole getting-pregnant-giving-birth part. I mean the becoming.
Our baby was planned, I had 9 months to think and prepare. Looking back, I don’t know what my expectations were, but I was sure they weren’t what the reality was. As I was handed my baby in that hospital delivery room, I didn’t know what I felt. Excitement, bewilderment, awe…panic. It all seemed so surreal, like this wasn’t my life and I was watching a movie.
I didn’t know that just because they handed you a baby and sent you home with her, that you were automatically a mother. Because I didn’t feel like one. I distinctly remember my first Mother’s Day and waking up to vases of roses and chocolate alongside an envelope that said “Mommy.” Happy What-Who Day? Me?
I’d always wanted to be a mom, but I don’t suppose I knew what that truly meant. And I’m not sure I can explain that even now. All I knew was that in those early days I was operating in the trenches: I was there physically, but my head and heart were spinning.
A good friend then pointed out that relationships take time to grow and develop. This was no exception. After all, she reasoned, how can you bond with someone who doesn’t let you sleep and screams at you every moment she’s awake?
Her words were true, but I still felt enormous guilt. I was envious of the moms who delivered a baby and whose first words were “I’m in love! Let’s do this again!” Because I didn’t know what I felt. Yes I loved my newborn, but I was also muddled. I was tired and I felt selfish. Why would anyone want to do this again?
Recently I was out shopping with another friend. I asked her what gets her through these trying days. Her reply was simple: “I just expect it to be hard. Motherhood is supposed to be hard.”
And she’s right. Maybe my expectations were out of whack. Maybe the books I’d read made it seem too easy. Perhaps I looked at other mothers and just imagined they had it all figured out while I was doing everything wrong. But I know now that’s not true. No one has this figured out.
Allowing myself that grace has been liberating. Both for me and my family. Letting go of how I think things ought to be and just letting things be has brought a sense of calm and love over us all. And I believe it has made me be a better mother.
Looking back over the months, I don’t know what I expected or what I even wanted. But I know that what I’ve received is a gift that I never want to let go. And I’m proud to call myself a mother. It fits now and I think it suits me. And this Mother’s Day, when I see the card and the flowers, I’ll know they’re meant just for me.
Rach is a mom to a 16 month old girl and is relying on God’s grace to help her be the mom He’s designed her to be. She blogs at Life Ever Sincewhere she writes about being a first time mom, juggling the joys and frustrations of being a stay-at-home.