Tuesday, September 22, 2015

I don't love being a mom.

5 week old Eloise. So stinking cute. She loved when her Daddy would touch her head.

Eloise is almost 3 months old now and we love her so much that we joke about having 50 kids just because we want more of her around. But back when she was about a month old I wrote this blog post and then didn't share it, probably because I was slightly ashamed of my feelings. But upon rereading it today I have decided it's worth sharing, even if its just for the purpose of me remembering my journey as a new mama. I love being a mom now, but I didn't love it then. And that's okay.
Thanks for stopping by! More blog posts to come. :) 

"Do you love being a mom?" 

Today marks 5 weeks and 2 days of being a Mama. I know I was a Mama while Eloise was in my tummy too but right now I’m only going to talk about what life has been like since we started hanging out with our daughter outside the womb.

So life as a new mom has been ...

Well that’s the thing ...

I’m having a hard time finding the right words to describe the experience of being a new mom. My heart so desires to be authentic, I want to be truthful and honest. I want to be positive while also being a person who doesn’t just share my highlights with you. I want to share my not-so-high-lights too, because I feel like there’s power in that. Especially now, in a world and culture where everything is a photoshopped and filtered version of reality. But this has been a struggle for me. For example, I haven’t known what to post on Instagram this week. Firstly that’s because my life is all baby right now and I feel like that might bore some people. But more than that, I just don’t know how to capture both the beauty and battles that motherhood has been for me. I fear that if I only post the happy moments then I’ll become a superficial version of myself, living to convince you of a perfect life that doesn’t actually exist. On the other hand though I don’t want to bring anybody down so this causes me to shy away from posting anything that could be perceived as complaining, because obviously I’m not trying to pollute anybody’s feeds either. This ultimately has left me silent.

So many people have asked me questions over the past few weeks, things like, “Do you love being a mom?”... “Are you in heaven?”... “Do you just melt when you look at her?” And of course the answer they are expecting is the answer I am going to give. Yes. Yes. And yes. But that’s where the struggle happens. Because what I also feel, apart from being in heaven and melting at the sight of my darling little girl, is a whole whirlwind of other emotions. 

When Eloise was 8 days old someone said sweetly, “I bet you can’t even remember what life was like before she was born.” I nodded and laughed as if to communicate agreement. But not because I actually agreed. I laughed because if I would have thought too much into it I probably would have started crying. Of course I still remembered what life was like before she was born. I remembered what it felt like to sleep. I remembered the ease I had in moments when I felt like getting up and leaving the house. I remembered the creativity and motivation I had to write and make videos. I remembered having sex and I remembered when my boobs weren’t milk-machines, and I certainly remembered when I didn’t bleed every time I went pee. Forgive me for being so graphic but that was my reality at 8 days postpartum. So when the suggestion was made that I couldn’t remember life before the baby, this heaviness of guilt came over me. Was I not supposed to remember life before the baby? Had I somehow failed this motherhood thing already because I wasn’t so overcome with butterflies of love for my little one that I still had memory of the way things were before her? 

At 5 weeks old things have gotten easier, just like my friends promised they would. I have gotten more confident, Eloise has gotten more sturdy, and my hormones have simmered down which is probably the best news of all. However I still struggle to know how to communicate what I’m experiencing with honesty but without sounding like I’m not enjoying it. Earlier this week I was asked again if I loved being a mom, and of course I smiled and said yes. But last night I was thinking about it and I decided that if I’m going to be perfectly honest then I need to refine my answer, because actually I don’t love being a mom yet. Not in the way that they mean when they ask. I still think being a mom is scary a lot of the time and I haven’t quite found a rhythm for how to do life with a baby. I’m still sleepy and un-showered most days, my parenting is made up of the guess and hope technique... guess what to do ... hope that it works. And literally every day presents me with new challenges to overcome. So in that sense, no, I really don’t love this Mama role quite yet. I’m grateful for it. I wouldn’t change it for anything. And not a single part of me regrets getting pregnant. In fact I already dream about having more babies so we can do this all again. But still, I don’t love it. Not like I loved traveling to Barcelona or working backstage at fashion week or even leading a ministry. I don’t love being a mom like I loved doing those things. Not yet anyway.

But in processing all this I realized something else too. Though I don’t love being a mom yet, if you ask me if I love my little girl, the answer is an all consuming YES. I love everything about her with everything that I am. I even love her cry. On my hardest days, the ones where she cries and I cry and she cries some more, I still love her more than I knew I could love anything ever. I love holding her in my arms and snuggling her precious body. I love her bright eyes and the funny faces she makes. I love that she farts loud like her Dad and I love that people think she looks like Shaun and my little sister. I do still remember life before Eloise but I don’t desire life without Eloise. Actually if I think too much about ever having to say goodbye to her I end up in tears. She is a gift beyond gifts and as tough as it is to be a mama sometimes, I sincerely pray that every woman in my life gets to experience the treasure of being a mom. It has been the best and hardest thing I’ve ever done. 

So that’s where I’m at today. I don’t love being a mom yet, not in the excited emotional way anyway, but I love Eloise and I love that I get to be her mom. And I think that’s okay. 

One day when Eloise grows up and has a baby of her own I want her to know that she doesn’t have to love being a mom right away. She might, and that would be wonderful, but if she doesn’t then she is not failing. The most meaningful things we will ever do require sacrifice, and often sacrifices don’t feel good until later on, when we have realized all that we gained through laying our lives down. 

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Anna Bishop said...

So beautifully raw Jess. And so, so normal to go through a process like this when such a drastic change comes to your life, whether it be having a babe or getting married or something else. Thank you for sharing & for being so open & honest. You are such an amazing writer. Love you! -Nan 😘

Luana said...

I love how deeply honest you are Jessica. I could have used this 26 years ago! I loved my babies but being a mom was/is hard. If someone had asked, I would have said no, not really. It is not for the weak or timid ;) But I love that God trusted me enough, temporarily, with these precious darlings...they do eventually leave:( But I love the adults they have grown into and I still get to call them my children and I am still their mom <3

Megan said...

Beautiful words Jessica! I appreciate your honesty so much. Motherhood is not for the faint of heart that is for sure. It has been the biggest challenge for me, but it would not trade it for the world. Eloise is so precious. The first few months are the hardest for sure, but as days pass, you learn new things that help in the daily routine, a nap time is established which is amazing, and the daily tasks get easier. I remember getting home from the hospital, feeling like I had been bit by a truck and then had to care for a newborn? What?! I feel like once you can conquer childbirth and post partum recovery, you can do anything! You are a wonderful Mama!

Megan Mead

Amanda Olivieri said...

Oh gosh, this spoke to my heart. I could have written this!!! I felt the exact. same. way. when Jace was first born. People would ask me the same questions (Do you love being a mom? I bet you can't remember life without him, right?) and I would feel the exact same guilt. Being a mom has been the most sacrificial kind of love I've ever experienced. It's so, so hard, but it's so, so good. I LOVE the way you put it, that you didn't love being a mom just yet, but you loved your baby beyond measure. And THIS: "I do still remember life before Eloise but I don't desire life without Eloise." That is everything. Yes, yes, yes. That is just what I felt, too. Many of my friends had babies around the same time as me, and they all seemed to be in Mommy Bliss Land from day 1, and I felt like something was wrong with me. Thank you so much for writing this. Thank you for your relentless transparency. Love you! <3

charlotte elizabeth said...

A mutual friend of ours sent me this post and it describes exactly how I feel with my 3.5 week old baby girl! Thank you for your honesty!

Claire Cannon said...

I really appreciate your authenticity! It makes me feel like all my feelings have a place :)

ellabri said...

Thank you so much for this! I can't tell you how strangely encouraging and comforting it is to hear someone talk about the reality of motherhood like that. We don't have kids yet but probably will soon, and I've always been in the camp that never really got baby fever and kinda dreaded giving up the easy fun and freedom of my current life. I guess it's just good to hear that it can be hard and also good at the same time. Everything you see in pop culture makes becoming a parent seem like such a bad decision for every aspect of your life, yet the people who do it seem blindly confident in their choices. This post gave me something I feel I can relate to. Thanks for your honesty.