Since Liam's birth, the constant motion of life as a new parent hasn't given me much time for reflection. Although motherhood is (to put it mildly) a serious time-suck, writing helps me clarify my thoughts and calm the static of my buzzing brainwaves. So, today I want to take a little time to write down a few thoughts on being a new mom.
As with every new chapter in my life--high school, college, moving to California--it seems that once I make the decision to move ahead, I put my toe in the river and the current catches me, pulls me in, and sweeps me along into the roiling white water rapids. I made the choice to become a mom, but that choice feels like the last bit of control I exerted on the matter. One thing that's become clear: once you take a seat on the roller coaster of parenthood, you're mostly just along for the ride.
There's no doubt a lot of the common wisdom on parenthood is true. Being a parent is fun and amazing and life-altering, etc. etc. blah, blah, blah. But, as they say, the devil is in the details, and--fun stuff aside--a mom is forged in the fires of the reality of the daily grind and the demanding pace of a 24/7 role that brings harrowing new meaning to the idea of "no rest for the weary." To avoid being swept away by the tide of exhaustion, self-doubt, and frustration that plagues me at times, I've done my best to hang on to one idea that is meant to remind me to be present and happy in the moment. The anchor thought I've gone back to over and over these past months when Liam is fussy, or pees on me, or won't sleep, or spits baby food back in my face: "You're gonna miss this one day." I am not an old woman, but I've lived long enough to have figured out that, looking back, you miss the way things were. I miss being a kid. I miss college. I miss being twenty-two and single. And so, the way I see it, it is a safe bet that one of these days I'm going to look back and miss Liam's babyhood exploits and these early days of motherhood. This state of mind seems quite reasonable and easy to maintain in the light of day, but--trust me on this--it takes commitment to hang on to this perspective at 3 a.m. on a work night!
Now that I am a mom, another pervading thought is this: I'm so glad I took an entire decade of my life to push boundaries, explore possibilities, and achieve some important goals and dreams like graduating college, doing a little archaeology, travelling to Egypt, taking a risk in gambling on a new start far from home, and earning a post-graduate degree in a subject that will always be my academic love. Taking the time to indulge in a "me" decade was a smart move, and I'm grateful I paid attention to those in my life who told me to seize on youth and opportunity while I had the chance. Aside from checking off some major items on my bucket list, I got to live a little and think about what I wanted out of life and why I wanted it.
So, with those halcyon, youthful days behind me (ha!), I've ended the "me" decade and entered the "we" decade(s). Thoughts so far? I suppose motherhood for me--so far--has been about taking a moment to look back with satisfaction and feel a greater appreciation of the road I left behind me and a sense of confidence that I'm ready for the next chapter and new adventures. I can look ahead and ask the question, "What's next?" without regret, and believe that whatever the answer is, the best is yet to come.