Reflections on a year of motherhood

by Ginger on September 3, 2010

in Mom Thoughts, Oh Baby!

On Monday, my baby boy turns one.

How has he already been with us a year? And has it only been a year? It seems like a lifetime and a nanosecond all at once.

Over the past few days, I’ve found myself strangely reminiscent of the lead up to Jackson’s arrival. I’ll have a brief little thought: “This is when the PUPPS got the better of me,” “I was still sleeping in the chair,” “the heat was still killing me,” “we had determined to induce,” “I was spending my days in the pool,” etc. I wasn’t expecting the flashbacks, to be honest, and find myself wondering if they’ll intensify over the next couple of days. As long as I don’t spend too long thinking back to the crippling back labor or the car ride(s) to the hospital, I guess it won’t be too bad.

I also find myself more emotional than I thought I’d be. I’ve not had many “my baby is growing up” tears–no crying when I put away the smaller baby clothes, or move on to the next size diapers, or many of the other growth milestones. But I seem to have a lump in my throat this week that seems determined to stick around. I think that’s why I’ve not written much this week (among other reasons), because I’m emotionally stuck on this milestone.

In the months leading up to Jackson’s arrival, I started to ask the “OH GOD What have we done?” questions. What if I wasn’t a good mom? What if I didn’t like being a mom? What if I resented the change in lifestyle? What if I didn’t love him the way I was “supposed” to? I think, to an extent, everyone has those questions. Even if they’re excited, there is this HUGE change barreling down on your life. Add in hormones and you’ve got yourself a recipe for self doubt.

Then he was born. And, I’ll be honest: I didn’t have the immediate, heart bursting, soul consuming love. Oh, I cried when they showed him to me. And I LOVED him, marveling over his little fingernails (they were long!) and holding him close while he nursed. I wanted to protect him, and shield him from the mean nurse who took him for his blood tests, and damn if that pitiful cry when he was in the blue box didn’t do me in. But it was a little…quiet. It was “I love you, but I don’t know you yet.” So I continued my questioning…my “what if I’m no good at this?” self doubt. Then, about 3 weeks after we brought him home, I went to check on him while he was napping, and…there it was. An overpowering, intense, almost PHYSICAL moment of love. I was alone with Jackson, looking down on him sleeping, and I burst into tears, completely overwhelmed by the wave of heart-bursting emotion.

And that’s been a good indicator of the past year. I’ve cried more this past year than probably any other time in my life. Tears of joy, of stress, of laughter, of heartbreak, of love, of anxiety, of relief, and of guilt. The contradictions continue, as I find that being a mom has been the hardest and yet the most easy, natural thing I’ve ever done. I question myself but I find my instincts to be pretty spot on most of the time. I have more fully formed fear now, but I also don’t feel constrained by that fear. Everything has an impossible weight and heft, and yet is also effortless. I’ve been fundamentally changed, and yet I’m exactly the same. I don’t know, it’s motherhood, what can I say, it’s all a contradiction.

All I know is I hope I don’t forget the little details about Jackson’s first year. I don’t want to forget about his little fingers twirling my hair in the middle of the night. Or his gaze in those early days of breastfeeding. Or the joyous, infectious laugh he belts out when he’s being tickled. Or how he’ll be calm during a diaper change if I read him a book. Or the way it feels when he lays his head on my shoulder. I don’t want to forget the hard parts–the biting, the sadness over leaving him to go to work, the teething, the epic struggles to keep him contained.  I don’t want to forget the firsts, but more than that, I don’t want to forget the always’. The way he always staggers to his feet in his crib after sleeping to be picked up, even when he’s not fully awake. The way he always squeals with delight when he sees the cat. The way he always only cries for a minute when he hurts himself, if at all. The way he always, always, always, has his legs moving.  The way he always makes us laugh.

This year has been quite something. My ideas on what it would be like to be a mom came nowhere near the reality. It’s more. In every single way possible, it’s more than that wisp of an idea. And I’m only a year in.

sizzle September 3, 2010 at 2:42 pm

Sounds like quite an adventure in the best way possible.

Happy birthday Jackson!

Stacy September 4, 2010 at 2:00 am

Awww…that brought a tear to my eye!
Happy Happy!

The Disgruntled Academic September 4, 2010 at 6:21 am

So sweet! We just hit 8 months today and so this post struck a chord with me. Congratulations on your first year!

Elizabeth September 4, 2010 at 1:39 pm

What a year it’s been for you. This is wonderfully sweet, and I can’t wait to see how the next year grows for the three of you.

Sarah September 5, 2010 at 2:39 am

Sounds like such an amazing experience, happy birthday to Jackson!

Perpetua September 6, 2010 at 8:48 am

Happy birthday to the whole family! I love the picture of you guys.

Laura Lohr | My Beautiful Life September 6, 2010 at 11:41 am

Happy birthday, Jackson! Enjoy each other today! 🙂

The Sweetest September 6, 2010 at 3:35 pm

What a sweet picture- and a perfect tribute to the first year of motherhood. Tears, tears, and more tears- but many of them tears of joy. You ARE fundamentally changed- and will keep changing with your son. Congratulations on your accomplishments thus far. There will be many more.

Kate September 6, 2010 at 3:43 pm

A beautiful post – I cry over my daughter growing older and now I cry over others, too. Happy Birthday Jackson!

Megan September 6, 2010 at 5:24 pm

Backed up on my blog reading, but I couldn’t wait to read this post, and now I know why! So beautiful! I only went through this a few months ago, and it already feels like a long time ago. But, you captured it wonderfully, and it’s all coming back to me now.

I didn’t get too upset about her turning a year. Maybe because she was still a baby. I think when she turns two I’ll take it harder because she’ll be a KID, you know?

In fact, I’m pretty sure she already is.

bekah September 7, 2010 at 4:18 pm

Ive been saving this post in my reader until I knew I had the time to actually READ it, like…really read it. Beautiful. You have put so much into what I have felt this past year as well, I know what you mean when you describe the expectations you had, and the way they were blown out of the water.

Happy birthday to that little dude, and to you Momma.

Lisa September 8, 2010 at 6:48 am

I’ve read this multiple times and I can never find the words to comment on it. I still can’t, other than to say that I loved this reflection.

Cheryl September 8, 2010 at 2:13 pm

Beautiful! In my overly emotional state at 29 weeks pregnant, I find myself a little too wrapped up in thoughts like this lately. How did my baby get to me almost 3? Are we ready to do all this again? But reading this also reminds me of how amazing all those firsts are with a little one. Congrats on getting through (and finding the joy in) the first year!

Nilsa @ SoMi Speaks September 13, 2010 at 8:38 am

Oh my, how am I *this* far behind in my blog reading … and to have missed a post of *this* magnitude? Sigh.

This is a wonderful post, friend. I love your honesty and your courage to say things I think many women feel but are too afraid to admit for fear of being ostracized. Loving another person is hard. Loving another person who is entirely dependent on you for life has to be that much harder. And yet, here you are, one year later doing an amazing job. Happy birthday to Jackson and a big congrats to you!

Broot January 19, 2012 at 12:43 am

I remember having those same moments of self-doubt. And the moments of love. And wonder. Well said.

Venus January 19, 2012 at 12:01 pm

Oh boy, and now he’s two (based on the date this post was written)! How was his second birthday for you? You wrote so beautifully about this, thanks for sharing!

Marie Cole January 19, 2012 at 12:24 pm

Ahhh that was great to read, I love it! :)))

Life As Wife January 19, 2012 at 1:56 pm

Jackson’s are easy to love huh? I NEVER cried before I had my little Jackson and now I cry at everything.

I’m going to reread this in a month when little man turns one and smile!

Tara January 19, 2012 at 5:16 pm

I know the feeling all too well. My daughter is FOUR and I cannot believe it. My son is TWO and its killing me! I hate that people say it goes so fast, because it does but i dont want them to be right! I love them little. Its bittersweet to watch them grow!

Tara @ secretsofamomaholic January 19, 2012 at 5:17 pm

I also miss nursing! I never thought I would.

Charlotte January 22, 2012 at 12:59 pm

Yes, I completely agree with Marie Cole – It was a GREAT read! Ohh I can’t wait for my 4 month old daughter to turn 1! But then again, I can.

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