I am fortunate to have two beautiful daughters – ages 12 (almost 13!) and 19. They are my joy. I look at them and am weakened with the depth of love I have for them. For me, having them is like having my heart exposed and all out in the open. I’m extremely proud and brimming with fear at precisely the same time.
Motherhood is the most joyous, celebrated, frustrating, humbling, infuriating, thankless, self-sacrificing, exhausting, beautifully triumphant job imaginable. Motherhood is contradiction personified. Here’s how I explained it to my friend who’s a new mom:
The First Trimester/ “Oh sh*t!”/The First 5 Years
I spent most of the first trimester of my first pregnancy trying to wrap my mind around the fact that a tiny human was growing inside me. I was paralyzed with the fear of doing anything that would hurt the baby. I was concerned about everything I ate, and every move I made. And, I felt awful. My sleep schedule was all over the place. I either slept like the dead or I was up worrying. There was no in between.
The first morning after I had Kayla, I begged the doctor to let me stay one more night. “Please don’t make me take that baby home” I cried. He caved. That is pretty much the feeling you carry until your baby is about 5. You are constantly afraid you’re doing it all wrong and have no idea how to navigate this parenting thing. I am an intelligent woman. That was not my story when I had a baby. I had a million questions: Is she actually getting full with this breast milk? Would cloth diapers or disposable ones be best? How does this baby gate work? Does she really know that’s a dog? Should we do half day of kindergarten or full day? I was helplessly in love with this little person and equally as lost. But then…..
The Second Trimester/Hey I Can Do This/Years 5-13
The second trimester of pregnancy is the “honeymoon” trimester. You begin to look pregnant (not just bloated). Your skin is glowing, your hair is thick, and you’re the very definition of a woman! The baby starts moving and you feel great! You’re bonding with your bundle. Life is good. THIS is pregnancy. If you could stay in the second trimester, you wouldn’t mind being pregnant forever.
When that precious angel turns 5, they are talking and can tell you what’s wrong. You can have conversations with them and get a glimpse as to who they really are. You start to marvel at their brilliance (clearly a gift from their mother!). Your baby is filled with innocence. They discover new things, and you discover you again! Through them, you get to see the world in color. Life is grand. THIS is motherhood. I can do this forever! You’re patting yourself on the back, until…
The Third Trimester/You Have To Get Out/Years 14-18
The tiny human is coming out into the world, and you couldn’t be more worried. Inside, you can protect that baby. You can keep it from all of the world’s ugliness. However, you are beyond uncomfortable. The baby could not care less about your space, as you have none. Sometimes they move and take your breath away. Your bladder has essentially given up, and sleeping is a foregone thought. You are miserable. And as you get closer to your due date, you want that baby out.
The same rings true with the teenage years. The time for them to go out into the world is quickly approaching, and you have to let them go. And, there are moments when you want to drop them off on the side of the road and drive away quickly! OH MY GOODNESS. If they stayed in the “second trimester”, they could live in your house forever. However, I firmly believe this is the Lord’s way to get you ready to let them go. Baby, you have to get out. The hormones changing, the boundaries being tested, the questionable decision making, all lead to the hardest times as a parent. The transition from parent to adviser had to happen for me. I had to learn to let go. There were times I had to watch her fail, so that she would learn to trust herself. That phase was (and still is) gut wrenching – yet, she thrives. My baby is now a young adult.
Even though I’ve “phased out” with one of my daughters, I’m still learning to be a mom to my youngest. It seems that just when you think you have something mastered, everything changes again. You never feel quite on top of things. There are times when I feel downright helpless, and I’ve learned that I’m not alone. We’re doing great, Moms! And I can honestly say I finally figured that out …19 years later.