Three years ago my husband and I welcomed a baby boy into our family. He was our first child and we were thrilled to be parents. Leading up to his birth I was confident we were ready, and as much as others told me life would change I somehow thought my life was different. I would not change, I would now just include mom on my resume. Boy – was I wrong.
The first time I held my son and looked into his eyes, life did change and so did I…dramatically. I was now a mother and solely responsible for this tiny life in my arms. To say you instantly fall madly in love is a vast understatement. There truly are no words in the English language to describe the overwhelming joy and love you feel when you first meet your baby. It’s once you get over that moment of butterflies and kittens the fear sets in. I actually asked my nurse, “Are you sure you want to leave him to me?” I was hoping I could move in to the hospital and just use the nurses as free labor until my son enrolled in college, but unfortunately my request was not honored. Eventually they did kick me out and now here I was…a mom.
Suddenly all other things in my life came second, which included my beloved Chihuahua. Blasphemy! Every minute of everyday, even once I returned to work, I thought about my son. Did he miss me? Was he ok? Does he know how much I love him? Does he love our nanny more than me? Should I give up my career for him? How am I going to pay for college? I basically turned into a raging lunatic. My nights were sleepless, and not just because the baby needed to eat but also because I was overanalyzing every move he made. If I did get the occasional two hours of sleep, I would have dreams he skinned his knees, or the kids at school were mean to him and would wake up in a panic. I always heard him crying even when he wasn’t. I slept with one eye opened staring at his chest to make sure he was still breathing. I hovered over anyone who was holding him, and often criticized my husbands parenting skills. No one loved my son more than me, so I knew what was best. Or so I thought.
Truth was, I didn’t know what the hell I was doing either. It was the blind leading the blind. I was just trying to make it to the next day without losing my sanity. I was exhausted trying to keep up with being a new mom, as well as the person I used to be. Then it hit me – I am not that person anymore and the sooner I learn to let her go, the better off I will be. I can’t stress over trying to be perfect because I’m not. No one is, nor do they expect me to be.
Once I made that commitment, all of the little insignificant nothings didn’t bother me anymore. I was going to have to get used to motherhood along with the worry and guilt that comes with it. It consumed me at first and was quite difficult to embrace. I constantly doubted my actions and myself. That pedicure I used to enjoy now seemed like time I should be spending with my family. Life became an intricate balancing act, but eventually I figured it out. I knew what advice to take and what advice not to take. I’m pretty sure putting Jack Daniels on my son’s gums when he’s teething was advice I had to turn down. I started feeling more comfortable with my decisions and knew I was doing the best I could.
The lessons I learned were: It’s impossible to give a 100% to everything. The person who puts the most pressure on you – is you. You might not be able to have it all at once and that’s normal. Something will have to give and you will make sacrifices. Those sacrifices will be worth giving up although you may not see it now. Becoming a mother will be one of your greatest accomplishments – mistakes and all. As time goes by some fears subside. The ache in your heart becomes one you begin to cherish and the lessons your kids teach you will make you a better parent – and a better person.