It's been over a year since the first time I held Nicholas in my arms. I had anticipated that moment, of holding my first child in my arms, for a very long time. There was so much joy and relief upon seeing his fat little face and surprisingly red hair. But after only a day or two of being a mom, I started to feel like I was two different people.
Mackenzie #1 cried tears of joy, didn't want to put Nicholas down, and cherished the cuddles during nighttime feedings. This "me" felt like I'd finally become who I was supposed to be.
Mackenzie #2 cried tears of painful exhaustion, got frustrated easily, and honestly wanted a break from this sweet, screaming baby. This "me"wondered if I would ever feel normal again and was worried that I was too selfish to be a good mother.
The first week of motherhood was the steepest learning curve I have experienced to date. One day I essentially lived my own life; the next I was sloppily trying to meet the every need of a tiny baby. As my friend Kara-Kae says, becoming a mom is a huge transformation. So for the new mamas out there (and even the veteran ones too) I wanted to share a little bit of how I've adapted to my new role as a mom. I bet I'm not alone in some of my feelings, and I hope I can encourage you to love life as a mom!
My Top 3 Tips for Adapting to Motherhood
1. Expect that you and your baby won't meet all of your expectations:
I had a lot of expectations for myself before I became a mom. Things like how quickly I'd get back into my pre-pregnancy clothes (expectation - 2 months, reality - 8+ months), that I'd get my baby to sleep through the night because I'd read the right books, etc. If I could have held my expectations a bit more loosely, I think I would have been less frustrated.
Bottom line: You don't know how your body, your emotions, and your baby will react once the baby is out of the womb - give yourself grace and take each day as it comes!
2. Accepting = enjoyment:
Motherhood changes your life is almost every single way. Some of the changes are great (i.e. that sweet baby, bonding as a family, learning more about yourself), and some of the changes are incredibly hard (i.e barely any sleep, working through teething or tantrums, losing much of your freedom, etc.). I've found I can either fight these changes and be frustrated, or I can accept the changes and actually enjoy each new phase. I'm not perfect at it. But when I accept that a crawling baby means that I need to baby proof my house and watch Nicholas more carefully (instead of feeling like my life is over) - I actually enjoy Nicholas more, and enjoy my daily life more. This takes a lot of prayer, but it's truly made me enjoy being a mom!
Bottom line: Your life WILL change. Don't hold on to what your life isn't anymore, but accept the great things that these changes brings. (I got this idea from Mindset for Moms, which I highly recommend!)
3. Ask for help!
My husband will probably laugh a little because I am the worst at this, but it's so necessary to ask for help. For some reason I carry around this idea that if I can't do motherhood by myself, then I must not be a very capable mother. But that, my friends, is a lie. Parents - we are SHAPING A PERSON. That is a huge job! So of course we need help, if we want to do it well.
When your hubby is running an errand on the weekend, have him take your child! Ask a friend/relative to babysit or to come over and entertain your kiddo while you clean, pay the bills, etc. Swap babysitting with a fellow mom! Let a friend bring you lunch or treat you to coffee. And most importantly - ask the Lord for help. He is the perfect parent, so let's turn to Him!
Bottom line: Moms, if we try to muster up the strength to parent on our own, we rob ourselves and our children. We need friendship, companionship, and a helping hand. This doesn't make you weak; it reveals that you are NORMAL. Ask a friend/relative/the Lord for help, and feel GREAT about doing so.
I am so grateful that I have been given the gift of motherhood. It has changed me and made me face many of my flaws. But I've also seen a piece of God's heart that continues to blow me away. Moms, it's so worth all the changes, all the sacrifice, and all the hard work. We get to be a part of shaping these tiny people into adults who will hopefully leave an incredible mark on this world. Let's embrace this time, give ourselves lots of grace, and let the Lord and others into our lives as we do this.