I see you sitting there, filled with equal parts excitement and distress. Parents and non-parents alike are all repeating a mantra as soon as they see you and your large belly, a slogan that has been shared so many times, it’s become custom to recite it to all mothers-to-be. And because you’re you, you smile and listen patiently. And because you’re you, you are skeptical and nervous, because the speech always ends with them repeating that it will take a long time for you to feel like yourself again. You sometimes feel like a fugitive because you are running away from all the warnings hurled at you. In here, in this place of in-between, you begin to wonder what feeling like yourself actually means and what it will be like to not feel like yourself.
But now that your daughter is half a year old, I can tell you from experience that motherhood won’t make you stop feeling like you.
Because what makes you you now is the ability to gracefully accept change. I know you. You get bored when life stays the same for too long. But it never does stay the same. For anyone. So take a breath. And listen.
Remember that time you met a boy and were afraid he’d ruin your plans? You were afraid that falling in love and getting married would fast forward your life to mundane. You weren’t ready for stable or safe. You wanted adventure. But you ended up taking on the role of wife and pastor’s wife even though it felt like stepping off the cliff of independence and falling into what you always thought you’d run away from. You thought you left your dreams of traveling and writing a book behind. Now you’re married and are doing both.
Before you married that man, you told him you didn’t want kids. Then the desire to have a baby creeped in, and as much as you wanted to push it away, it took over, like your daily cravings for chocolate ice cream topped with sour patch kids and a side of ginger ale. It was as if the love you had for your husband was too much to bear. You were bursting. And the only way to tame it was to become parents with him.
And you stared at your positive pregnancy test and wondered if this was it. If this was what was going to scare you off. The you that you held so tightly onto. If it would change your life so much that you’d spend the rest of it searching for the pieces of you that you lost along the way.
That because of all this you would be a horrible mother.
Every time you feel a kick and wonder if you’ll resent her. I remember.
I can tell you that what you will lose and miss most is sleep. You will lose the luxury of privacy. You will lose the ability to keep your house tidy and organized. You may never eat a full meal without an interruption again. Time will no longer exist. You will lose the ability to worry about yourself.
But now, six months into motherhood, you’re more you than you’ve ever been. Every day, you watch Emelia discover something new about herself and about the world. And in this way, you are rediscovering yourself. You are finding that there’s things about you that you never new existed. You never bothered to recognize them. Your little girl exhibits things that are oh so familiar.
You are learning that you are stronger than you thought you were. You just never had an opportunity to showcase your resilience. You will be pushed to be brave for the sole purpose of protecting your family. You will smile just hours after you face one of the darkest moments of your life. What will bring out the you in you is pure vulnerability and extreme love for a child. For your daughter.
Go ahead. Let your tears fall. I know you don’t want anyone to see, but know that soon your daughter will be watching and learning. And your tears will be a sign that you exist, that you have a heart that’s ever-changing, remaining the you that you have always been, and always will be.
In just a few short months, motherhood will force you to be more you than you’ve ever been. A you that’s just a bit more tired, suddenly ready to go to bed before 9 p.m. You have upped your coffee intake and are buzzing with caffeine, which leads you to be more productive than ever. You are knitting cowls and making homemade candles. Yeah. I know. It doesn’t sound like you, but it is you. You used to be a homebody, but now you get excited about the mere prospect of getting some Target fresh air, roaming through the baby aisles with confidence, and lingering in the candy aisle.
You are now living life intentionally. Every moment is a learning experience for Emi and for you. You already see so much of you in her, and now you know that you will always be you. The ever-changing, ever-adapting you. And you will hope that she will be content with the parts of you that are a part of her.
So take heart and go take a nap. Rest easy. Six months into motherhood, you are still feeling like you. And somehow, you know you always will.