Emerging Motherhood: Our First Year

The identity of a woman birthing another,
a mother:

only a child herself
birthing

another,
infant self.

 

Emerging into motherhood, although a shared experience, is a drastically varying, conflicting, and painfully personal story we each carry. Labor and birth are joyously terrifying and chaotic experiences. I am equally grateful and horrified to know that now. Identity can often be the most challenging part of our journey as mothers, because most of us will immediately feel plural, and yet simultaneously we will desire five minutes alone. Some days will breeze by. Some days will be ugly and heavy like rain clouds looming. Days like that, although trying, will teach you something valuable about patience. Look for it. Every storm will roll out as quickly as it came in. Some days you will just want to be noticed, even the chronic introvert will admit to it. It's almost like you don't want anyone to forget that [Sara] exists, even if your Mama tag shows first. But know, 

it's only a season,
as you make room for two.

You may return to a once full-time position that has now become only part-time, or have to be away from your children for weeks at a time. You will leak out of yourself, toes poking out of your tights, and bite your fingernails in worry. These moments will pack quite a punch on a Saturday morning when you’re getting ready for a yoga class and your babysitter bails. You will ask yourself, but this is only the beginning? Don’t be too hard on yourself (or the babysitter!) The road emerging into motherhood will not be without its highs and lows, magnificent and joyous or equally bitter and defeating moments. You will be left with no other choice but to roll out your mat in the living room and bow into child's pose and surrender your ridiculous adult-ing mechanisms of control and unfulfilled expectations. You will accept your NOW for what is and not what you imagined it would be. It’s a daring task. You’re mourning a fleeting youth, and simultaneously, welcoming another in. 

Life will grind your dermis down tissue paper thin. Whether you are home more than you intended or away longer than you planned, eat 100% organic, vegan, or feed your kids canned peas and fish sticks, I promise you,

it's only a season,
as you make room for two.

The first year
will be trying. Full 

of joy
and tears of exhaustion and
laughter 

until your cheeks hurt
but mostly 

love is heavy 

in your hearts and

in your hands.
 

Your days will be stretched thinner now, tightly packed with baby bags and witnessing your son pee on his own face, week-long teething spells, no sleep and too much coffee, pinching chubby baby thighs and kissing cheeks, long work days on your feet, and a questionable amount of chocolate chip muffins consumed. 

It's not that space has grown between the two of you, but that the space between you both is crowded like an 80 year old's screened-in-porch. Every season you will accumulate more: another chair for sitting, books and piles of toys outgrown, old blankets and boxes of clothes you've stretched the seams of but cannot part ways with. The lived-in and worn-out pieces of yourselves, saved as if ornamental, and you will fear parts of yourself may have gone extinct. You will say, 

Not today, but soon.

Your life will suddenly revolve around breastfeeding or learning when or how much of a bottle to feed (because you’re baby is STILL eating), and all while your husband is on the toilet finishing another book. Someone will inevitably feel robbed, unbalanced, and short-fused because of it. To be fair, you both work HARD, but you will be running on 4-6 hours of sleep in two-hour intervals for months. All the while you are each battling with your own identity splits. Resentment is toxic. Compassion gets you further, I promise. The first year is hard. I REPEAT: both of you are cracking open, and you can’t survive if you are against one another. You may shamelessly barter your way out of chores, bicker over who had been on their feet longer and equally who has had less sleep, beg for back rubs, and when you have been defeated by the day and you reach out for an embrace, there is inevitably a baby (or two) and a dog between you, so instead you will fall asleep holding hands and wrapped in separate blankets. And you will say, 

Not today, but soon.

 

Your first year will be full
of stairwells 

logging steps 

you’ve climbed,
espresso beans ground strong 

for a full bodied cup, and

last-minute miles driven for diapers or 

thirty minutes by yourself in the sun.


Listen to your child, listen when his coos turn corners and become syllables, his belly rolls strengthen to lift his knees up and barrel into a bear-crawl. Get down on the floor alongside your toddling child, kiss him, engage with him, and smile when he opens the same closet door over twenty or thirty dozens times. Emerging mothers, even when you're struggling to sleep and feel emotionally crumbled or malnourished from growing yourself anew, I promise, 

you are right where you need to be.


We need each other. We need our stories, not for comparison but to help us breathe through the hard parts, the uphill incline, and encourage one another rather than trip ourselves up. When our in-laws challenge our norms, our kids eats rocks and scream in public spaces, or your twenty-pound dog turns two and suddenly you're raising a puppy again, I'm here reminding you of that one time in downtown Oakland when a kid stole your wallet and your ran after him. You walked home out of breath, but you still had every dollar you left home with. You're the BOSS of your life, don't let anyone else's rules get in your way. Just when you think the last thread has snapped, you will salvage a needle to patch the hole. Be kind to other mothers, patch your holes, and walk your beautiful self outside and stand in the sun. Take it from her, she knows,

you are right where you need to be.


Emerging motherhood is the cracking open, the dry flaky skin incessantly itching, and the decision to fight the next day even if you need another cup of coffee. It's learning how to breathe through the bloody knuckle middle parts. You will hold on tight to what you love because what else is there? Identity doesn't have to be something we mourn, but I did anyway. My baby will be a year old in only two weeks, I will be thirty by the end of the summer, and in the meantime we will be looking for our first home as a family, and I still tell myself at least once a day,

you are right where you need to be.

 

Sara Consolati, The Village Journalist

Krystal DonovanComment