Pictures can be deceiving. As much as I love bright, beautiful imagery, please don’t be fooled: the last three months haven’t been quite as peachy and effortless as these photos might suggest.
It’s been about 12 weeks since Miles was born, and quite a few of you asked how my transition into motherhood has been. I honestly wasn’t sure you guys would even be interested in this aspect of my life, so I’m grateful for the care and concern. I’ve had a lot of thoughts about this gigantic life change percolating in my head and I’m not sure I’m going to do them justice in a single blog post. Regardless, before I start sharing more style related things again I do think I need to try – so here goes!
Shortly before Miles’ birth I’d decided that I was going to take a bit of a break from everything when he arrived, including creating content. I didn’t give myself a set time frame, but I thought a month or so would be plenty to get adjusted to newborn life. Well, it’s now been almost three times that, and things have looked juuuust a little different than anticipated.
While pregnant, I’d envisioned my maternity leave to be full of enriching and exciting things like fun family activities with baby, decorating our new home, learning how to use my sewing machine, and cooking beautiful meals since I wouldn’t have to go to my 9 to 5 job. I can almost hear you moms out there laughing at my naivety! In reality, I’ve mostly been cocooned inside the house, not doing much save for nursing, trying to get Miles to sleep, and catching up on rest myself whenever possible. Frankly, I’ve been too exhausted to do anything else.
I’ve caught myself wondering why I haven’t been more productive, at least in the conventional sense, especially in comparison to how other moms seem to be doing. Sure, Brian has been in the middle of a starting a new business, working well into the evening seven days a week to get things off the ground. We also just moved to the suburbs and don’t have a community here. Even so, surely that shouldn’t make that much of a difference in my adjustment to being a mother? Other moms are in way harder situations and manage way better!
As I type this out I know how ridiculous it is, both to have these expectations of myself and to compare in the first place. This is a huge life change, and things take time. A single conversation with another mom is all it takes to remind me that we all have our struggles. But even though I know these things in principle, it’s hard to remember them consistently. And while I’ve been exposed to social media and have been on the “influencer” side of things for years, I seem to regularly forget about this whole “highlight reel” thing when it comes to motherhood. So when I find myself seemingly not measuring up, I sometimes feel like I’m failing at the whole thing.
These unrealistic expectations on myself are probably compounded by the fact that I’m a perfectionist. Having recognized this in myself over the years, I know this trait is more of a vice than a virtue. Though it allows me to produce good work once in a while, it can create a lack of flexibility — a need for things to be “just so”.
In my three months of being a parent I’ve learned that flexibility is probably the single most important trait I need to have. During many late night nursing sessions, I’ve made the mistake of going down the Google rabbit hole. In the process I’ve landed upon a lot of rules and “should’s”, finding parenting forums where moms would offer tips on how to replicate their newborns’ perfect bedtime, nap, and feeding schedules. Try as I might, I’ve had to accept that real life hardly ever looks like this and those babies are probably unicorns. Attempting to force the issue has inevitably led to many tears of frustration for both myself and for baby.
In addition to being flexible with Miles, I’m learning to be flexible with myself too. I’ve only just realized what a luxury it was to be able to do what I wanted, when I wanted. This blog post in itself is the product of many false starts, parental and in-law help, and sneaking in a sentence or two before the baby wakes up from the 15 minute catnap that I spent 30 minutes getting him to fall into. I’ve also now experienced “mommy brain” firsthand: earlier this week, my husband found clothes that were meant for the hamper in the diaper garbage bin.
I’ve had to have grace on my physical recovery, as well. I know that I’m shedding my pregnancy weight, but it’s mostly due to the loss of the muscle tone and strength that once inhabited my body. I expected to start being active again shortly after giving birth, but at 12 weeks postpartum I’m nowhere close to where I thought I’d be. Even though I know my body is strong and capable for doing what it did this year, I physically feel the weakest I’ve ever felt.
With all of this being said, I’m so grateful to be a mom. My intention with this post isn’t to suggest that I’ve been having a terrible time, because I truly haven’t. Growing and birthing a child has shown me what a miracle it is to be able to do so. Now that Miles is a little older (and smiling!), there are so many moments of happiness. I’m finding myself delighting in him more and more as we emerge from the fourth trimester. It seems like something new happens daily, and it’s starting to actually feel fun.
I do hope to continue being honest and realistic with you in the things I share without coming across as a complainer. I want to use this platform to be as open as I can be and not paint the picture that motherhood is full of always smiling babies wearing heirloom quality outfits or bathing in floral milk baths. There are certainly moments of frustration and fatigue every single day. I find myself grieving the loss of my life before motherhood. But I’ve come to see that it’s normal, and perhaps even healthy, to feel these things.
Sometimes I genuinely ask myself if it was a wise decision to jump into this parenting thing at all. But I don’t think that question makes me a terrible mom. As I write this sentence I’m typing with one hand while holding my nursing baby with the other, and I think about how amazing it is that this little human needs me more than anyone else right now. It’s a privilege: an exhausting, often inconvenient one, but a privilege nonetheless. Because learning that my time isn’t my own has helped me see someone as more important than myself. And while my thighs and belly are a little softer these days, so is my heart.
A special thank you to my talented husband for taking these photos – I’m going to treasure them forever.