It’s Mother’s Day and I’m a weepy mess. Being a mother has wrecked me.
I just nursed my daughter for the last time and put her to bed, tears streaming down my face. I’m as surprised as anyone that I have any sorrow to close this chapter in our lives. Nursing was HARD and long, and took hours upon days upon weeks of time for our first year together as mama and babe. Sometimes I loved it, other times I complained.
Nursing took sacrifice and total commitment. I gave up a lot that I didn’t anticipate. And I wanted to quit SO many times along the way. It slowed life down (in necessary ways), and taught me that life is not all about me.
But here I am, saying goodbye to it a year later, and I find myself so sad.
I had no idea the life I would find in giving my life away.
I had no idea the connection I would feel, or the fulfillment that comes in the giving up.
For me, to quit nursing would have been a 100% selfish move; this is not the case for a lot of mamas who had to grieve the absence or inability to. There were days I would’ve traded places in a heartbeat with absolutely no regrets. Because I’m self-centered and wanted my time and my body back.
It’s been complex and emotional in ways I had no idea about.
Which is pretty much how I would sum up the first year of being a mom: Complex. Emotional. Layers upon layers. You start peeling back parts of you to discover new parts of you that you didn’t even know existed. You come face to face with your fears and dark places deep down, but you also find your soft, tender heartbeat. And you realize it’s not inside you anymore; it’s in your arms.
I cried early today, too. Driving home and that song came on the radio: the one they played at my sister’s funeral. And I looked back to see my little girl with her sunshine streaming on her sweet, blonde hair, just reading her books without a care in the world. And I thought about my sister’s sweet, blonde hair and how she was fun and simple and carefree, too. And how this day is hard.
Being a mom is hard.
You don’t know what’s next. Ever. You barely know what’s happening right now.
I remember last year on Mother’s Day when the nurse came into my hospital room that morning and handed me my brand new, teeny-tiny baby and I thought, “Now what? Who’s going to tell me what comes next??”
I felt clueless and a little scared. And if I could honestly change one thing of the first year of being a parent it would be to kick fear in the face. It’s got no business in my heart or in my parenting. And truth be told, being a mama was almost unbearable until I stopped being so afraid of messing everything up. I was terrified of this easy-going, fragile but sturdy girl, but once I embraced her, truly, everything changed.
You find out who you are when you become a mom. Not all at once; you emerge over time and over trials, over tears and heartache. Through smashed bananas and sticky kisses, through wipe outs and tough choices.Through the giving up and the surrender. You become you as they become them.
And the more vulnerable you are, the more you let the light in.
The more selfless you are, the happier. And the more you laugh, the more joy you feel. You need laughter like you need water and air: it’s crucial to survival as a mom.
I have to believe that almost every person feels some combination of celebration and grief on Mother’s Day. Even if for a brief moment, I bet memories tug on our heartstrings today, reminding us of things that aren’t quite the way we hoped or imagined they would be.
Life is like that: feasting and fasting, celebration and mourning. It’s a blend of all the feels, and you’re best to let those emotions run their course instead of shutting them down.
Because I truly and deeply believe life comes after death. And I pray in some way you’ve experienced that today. You may have to look for it, but it’s there. A glimmer. A spark of happiness.
A reason to celebrate.
A reason to hope.
And even though there may be endings, there will be new beginnings, too.