How Motherhood Changes Us

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Last weeks of true solitude.

Funny how we, as first-time moms, hear story after story about how profoundly a baby will change our lives. We listen to the experiences of other “well-meaning” women describing the ups and downs of motherhood but we never truly know what they mean until we’re in the midst of the chaos that follows giving birth.

In retrospect, I never fully appreciated the value of solitude when I had it. Before giving birth, I didn’t realize just how all-consuming motherhood really is. With the baby still safely within the confines of my body, I didn’t have to worry about this tiny being as much as when he became a separate entity…outside in the vast, scary world. My solitude disappeared and, suddenly, life wasn’t about me anymore. Not even a bit. I lived and breathed for my baby. I decided everything for him. I nourished, bathed, and clothed him. My needs, desires, and dreams became secondary. I was now a mom. My “sense of self” became less – hence the term “selfless”. I realized how possible it was to love someone more than I could ever love myself. Unfortunately for me, I didn’t have a lot of help or support from anyone when my two were little and it wasn’t a choice. I single-handedly raised both of my children and it was 23 years before I had a solo vacation. That was a long time without solitude, but I wouldn’t change a thing even if I could.

Motherhood is definitely not for the faint-hearted. It’s a never-ending series of exasperating, frustrating events that deprive us of our sleep, patience, dignity, peace, and feeling appreciated. We have to be all things for our children, regardless of how we’re feeling on any given day, and we have to distract ourselves from worrying until we know that our children are safe and sound…every…single…damn…day…for the rest of our lives. “Solitude” becomes a distant memory, but only for a while…and then we happily welcome it back {like an old friend} when the kiddos become more…independent.

The picture is of my daughter, taken just 3 weeks before she gave birth to her daughter. Her solitary form against the backdrop of the water serves as a reminder of the calmness she may have felt in the weeks before her life changed forever. From behind, anyone looking at this picture wouldn’t know she was pregnant; my experience as a mom and my memories of being pregnant for the first time filled me with a certain retrospective appreciation as I watched her enjoy that last bit of solitude.

Until next time…

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