Recently, I spent an evening with a fairly new mama with another baby on the way. I could see she was struggling and I could hear the sadness she was trying to cover up in her voice. My heart ached for her as I felt her new motherhood pain as if it were mine, because it was and sometimes still is.
People can tell us over and over again how hard motherhood will be, but that’s like someone describing to a child that a burner is hot or that a lemon is sour. It really means nothing until you experience it for yourself.
For me, early motherhood was like glass shattering and my world and my identity were broken into a million little pieces.
I had so many expectations of what it should look like and what kind of mother I would be and how I would feel. Then in an almost shockingly instantaneous shift, my life was suddenly filled with someone else’s 24/7 expectations and mine didn’t matter any more. It was all about him, as it was designed to be, but I wasn’t happy.
No, as a new mom I wasn’t happy, I told this sweet young mother. However, I went on to explain, I think happy is a very ambiguous term that can mean very different things to different people. And I believe we often can place far too much value on the idea of “happy” in our lives.
Happy to me, is about being content and I wasn’t content. I was lost and scared and exhausted, but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t also joy. More importantly though, there was love.
I was filled with an overwhelming, heart crushing, knock you to your knees love like I had never known before.
It was then that I began to truly comprehend that love and happy don’t always go together. Love makes you put someone else’s needs before your own. It causes you to make huge sacrifices for someone else’s benefit. It transforms you from selfish to selfless, but it doesn’t happen painlessly.
That is why motherhood isn’t simply another role we take on or a check on our life plan to do list. It is a journey that changes our soul. It takes all those millions of pieces and gets rid of some of the ones that aren’t all that important while adding new pieces created from our children.
Now that I’m past the intensity of those early years filled with sleep deprivation and loneliness and my children and I have both begun to discover and form identities separate from each other, I do have happy days. But I also still have many that are filled with tears, frustrations, disappointments and chaos.
However, no matter what every day brings, there is always love and that is what motherhood really means.
Looking for more parenting inspiration? Then you would really love this, From a Soccer Mom to Her Little Boy. (have a few tissues nearby)