A mother is who I am now

Heather Lind weighs the mom guilt against the mom joy of having a baby.

A piece about my own real life as a mom? Where do I start? I never got around to the other write-in competition, but it still appears on my to-do list occasionally (somewhere between sewing on my husband’s lost button and creating a Pinterest-worthy DIY mobile for my three-month-old, now nine-month-old).

I’m too tired to describe the nine wake-ups last night, or the fact there have been a total of three nights “sleeping through” (until 4am) in nine months. It’s not terrible, especially when the bouts of insomnia lead to catch up scrabble games on my cell phone, while my slumbering husband and son snore in tandem. I’m ecstatic to have a baby app to record each nappy, feed and sleep event in my child’s life, as it frees up the now limited memory bank for more pressing matters like preparing lists and keeping my head up in the part-time job in which I’m managing to excel despite too little sleep.

“I suddenly understand grace and surrender a bit better, and how love grows.”

I’m too emotional to explain to every second person the anxiety I’ve faced over his growth after a rough start; exacerbated by each flippant comment about my “skinny” boy. Yes, he’s skinny. No, he’s not weak or unhealthy or slow on his milestones. Not that it’s any of your business. I understand people mean no harm and I’m over-sensitive. It still hurts deeply each time, pouring doubt on my parenting skills once again. I dismissed “mom guilt” as psychobabble the moment I heard about it. As it turns out, though, I caught it like a pesky cold. Why didn’t I catch him before his head hit the mat? How could I forget the dummy! I didn’t know it would be too windy for him here. The guilt lies waiting to strike – unbidden, unwanted, unbearable. Friends assure me: “You don’t have any reason to feel guilty. You are a great mom.”  But the guilt remains, a background feature; unsuccessfully ignored, like the new bleach stains on my best table cloth.

So maybe I’ll just write about the joy of motherhood. You know, the once a month winning upload. The shot that doesn’t show the two hundred photos before it, with scowls, acrobatics, tears or complete annihilation of the carefully chosen, not-too-obvious props for a “natural” setting. “Look! This is my life.” It isn’t the whole story, more an ideal expectation; but everyone runs on coffee and Facebook likes. It does feel amazing when a perfect moment is beautifully frozen in time, because he grows quicker than I can believe. How can I ever reveal it makes me sadder than sad he is growing faster than the speed of light, when every minute of the day is focused on providing him with nourishment and development opportunities. My new baby is almost standing on his own two feet. It is heart-breaking, and wonderful!

These months have been the most difficult of my life, but also the most joy-filled. My life is busier, exhausting and full of confusion now. It is also happy, full of wonder, more beautiful and strangely satisfying. I suddenly understand grace and surrender a bit better, and how love grows. He has my heart and sleepless nights will be over soon (I think).

I’m a good mom. Not perfect but committed. I will learn. I will improve. There is no room for regret when I’m trying my best, even with a lengthening to-do list. A mother is who I am now. What a privilege!

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