I have been a mom for 16 months now. Well, 25 months, technically, but when that baby's BORN, that's when everything changes. And do you know who has changed the most in the last sixteen months??? I have.
I remember when Z was just a couple of weeks old, and I was SO tired, exhausted really, and my MIL was here taking care of Z between feedings/pumping so that I could get some rest. And I remember her saying something to me along the lines of: "Cherish every minute of being his mommy. Cherish all of it, even the night feedings."
And I thought, "Cherish? The night feedings? Are you kidding me? All I want to do is get some SLEEP!!!"
And now that he's not nursing anymore, I look back and think, "wow- that went SO fast - I should've definitely cherished every moment of that a little more...even the night feedings..." :) Of course, that's easy for me to say now that Z sleeps from 7:30 pm to 7 am without waking to eat or anything.
When I think ahead to the future, I always imagine myself as 'the perfect mom'. I see myself as a mom with five or six well-behaved children gathered around me, hanging on my every word. I see myself sweetly responding to each of their needs in turn, completely focused on them, never desiring anything for myself, never desperate for a nap or a bath or just a little break. In short, I see someone VERY different from the person I am now.
Does such a person even exist? If so, speak up, perfect moms - share your secrets, please!!
I guess what I'm trying to say is that before I had Z, I thought I would be the perfect mom. I never imagined how hard, how 24/7 this parenting thing can be. "I've done daycare", I said. "I've taken care of several infants at one time. How hard can one baby be?" But no one told me about ALL. THE. CRYING. No one explained to me the exhausting physical limits that my body would be pushed to in those first few weeks and months. You see, at daycare, at preschool, YOU GET TO GO HOME at the end of the day. When you have a baby, YOU ARE HOME.
During those first few weeks, I was so overwhelmed and exhausted. Parenting a newborn was such a shock to my system, I cried constantly. Tears are my way of responding to, well, most anything, honestly - stress, joy, tiredness, etc. And at some point (about 7 weeks in, if I remember correctly), I realized, "Hey. I'm not doing a good job at this. I guess I can't do this on my own. Is there somebody that I can depend on to give me strength in times like this???" Um, yeah. His name is GOD. And I began to turn to Him, and draw on His strength, and not my own. In that instance (and others since), God used parenting to break me; to bring me to depend more fully on Him; to grow me.
And the longer I parent, the more I begin to realize how FAR I am from that impossible dream of being 'the perfect parent'. But I'd also like to think that if/when I have a chance to 'do it all over again' with another newborn, I will have gained enough perspective to carefully cherish each precious moment, even the difficult and exhausting ones, and especially those night feedings.
This post was written for Scribbit's April Write Away contest.