The surprises I had when I became a mother

I've been privileged to be a mother and now a grandmother. My story may sound familiar and it might sound strange but I tell it to emphasize how mothers can learn so much about themselves and the surprises that happen along the way. 

This photo was taken a few years ago when my first two granddaughters were babies. I treasure these very special moments with them. 

When I was a little girl, I didn't think about becoming a mother, I just played with dolls and assumed I'd be a mother one day.

The joy of having my firstborn son

The moment I held my firstborn son in my arms, I knew something inside of me radically shifted forever.  It was as if fairy dust had been sprinkled over me as I completely and unforgivably fell in love. 

Andrew was big ...9 pounds and 4 oz. The labor was rough but I was determined to have this baby naturally. And I did. In fact, when it came time to push, I heard the doctor say, “we're going to have to use forceps,” I said "hell no you're not."

That night, I got up to go to the bathroom and looked in the mirror. The woman in the mirror looked back at me…and I thought, “who the hell is that and why is her eye so bloodshot”?  It took a few seconds and I realized...holy hell, that's me. 

The next day the doctor said I had burst a blood vessel in my eye from pushing so hard. Yikes. 

It was worth it. When I held Andrew for the first time, I was smitten. I forgot about all the pain of labor. 

When I returned home from the hospital,  I realized I didn't have a clue as to how to take care of a new baby.  I really didn't. The thing people say “you'll just know what to do with a baby when you have one” is completely false. 

Learning how to take care of a baby

I learned quickly what to do because I had to. I had this beautiful little being who relied on me for everything. From one day to the next, my life was transformed into another world.  I stepped smack dab into motherhood.

Three days later I was taken aback by a surprising, overwhelming feeling I couldn’t identify.  I burst into tears as I called my husband at work and he asked, what's wrong? And I sobbed, I don't know. I could barely speak. I couldn’t stop crying. I had no idea why I thought I could be a mother. I felt completely unprepared for this journey. Later I found out that what I was experiencing was the baby blues. Another big surprise.  

To try to do anything like take a shower with a newborn is, well, you might as well forget that. In my pre-mother role, I was thinking, I’ll just get things done while the baby is sleeping. WRONG. 

I had one of those babies who didn’t sleep. He was always awake it seemed. Another surprise. 

Becoming a mother for the second time

As the next couple of years passed and my 2nd son was born, I found motherhood easier. I did, 2 ½ years later know what to do.  And again, I was swept away with how much love I felt for this little being. I didn't think I could love another child that much again but I found out it was possible. And I was surprised I had so much love inside of me to give to them. 

Rob was so different than his brother. He actually slept! He took naps even so things were easier. 

And then we moved across the world to a remote island in the South Pacific when Rob was 6 months old and Andrew 3 years old.  As I look back on those years, I realize they were some of the best and the hardest. Being a mother there was not easy. But it was fun raising kids on a tropical island. 

The dark times of mothering

When my marriage failed, I returned to the US when the boys were 7 and 5. Being a single mother is incredibly hard. You lose perspective without the other parent around. At times I thought I was the worst mother on the planet.

I remember once locking myself in the bathroom after yelling at the boys so that I didn't do something I'd regret, like hitting them. I was so stressed and overwhelmed and didn't know what to do. But after about 10 minutes of talking myself down off the ledge and lots of deep breathing, I came out and apologized to them and let them know that their mom was back in control of herself. Another surprise...was that I knew to do that part of acknowledging what had happened. 

Being a mother is the hardest job but the best

If you are a mother, you probably can relate to some of my stories about stepping into mothering. If you are expecting to have a baby, or if you know someone who is about to give birth, just know you’ll have your own magical experiences. It’s the hardest job you’ll ever have. And it will be the best one. You will learn more about yourself through this process than anything. Our children teach us so much. 

To all mothers and grandmothers, and to those of you who would love to be a mother, pat yourself on the back. Whether you mother a newborn, a 50-year-old, grandchildren, a furry animal, a niece or nephew, a friend’s child, whether you’ve lost a child, are estranged from your child, miss your child because you haven’t seen them for a while, take a moment to think of how important this job is, this act of mothering. 

And then give yourself a hug. Give all mothers you know on this day a hug. Because every day is Mother’s Day. 

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