I'm sitting here at 5:30 am typing this post with one hand. I'm breastfeeding Mara and trying to help Evie not spill a bowl of hot oatmeal all over the three of us. I'm tired and bewildered by my first daughter's refusal to sleep these past few weeks. It has been a fairly smooth transition so far- going from one child to two. Far easier than I expected, and for that I'm so thankful. But there are hard moments. Days when I feel like I have less than an ounce of patience left, when I need much more. Afternoons when all I can think of is crawling in to bed in six hours. Moments when I think there's no way I'm cut out for this whole motherhood thing. This early, sleep and patience deprived moment is one of those.
But those moments are in the minority.
When I think about the ways that motherhood has changed me, I'm kind of overwhelmed. Not that I was a terrible person and having kids redeemed me, but all the small lessons and moments of growth add up, even in my short (almost) two years as a mama.
I realized very quickly how little patience I have on my own and how much grace I need to be able to step back and ask for it. Each phase of parenthood poses it's own challenges, but I'm almost certain patience will be helpful in all of them. I'm becoming more and more mindful of how I respond to Evie (and even AJ, when I've had a really bad day) and I've learned more than once that snapping at her only makes matters worse. I'm learning to just let her pour dirt on herself instead of trying to explain to her that I really liked the outfit she was wearing and would actually prefer something stay clean for once. I'm learning to choose my battles carefully and let her be a child, messes and all.
Parenthood has taught me that my needs aren't as important as I thought they were. Before I had a child competing for my time, I could (basically) do whatever I wanted. I showered everyday and had time to put makeup on. I could sit at a coffee shop uninterrupted and journal. I could sleep. I could hop in the car and drive anywhere on a moments notice. And while sometimes I miss that freedom, learning to give of myself in every way- even something as simple as getting up in the middle of the night when she's had a bad dream, or sharing the last bite of ice cream- is a much more valuable lesson. It is a strange thing, not to be my own main concern.
Motherhood forces you to reevaluate your identity, because so many of the things you were able to do before have to be put on hold. I've had to find new hobbies and new communities that mesh with this new version of myself. I've had to be ok with being lonely sometimes, when my only interaction is with a 19 month old and a baby. I'm learning that who I am isn't wrapped up in who I know or what I do- I have to find my identity somewhere deeper.
The time goes much quicker now. I'm more grateful for my husband and aware of how hard he works for us. I smile more- that deep heart-smile that is more on the inside than the outside. I cherish the small things, knowing that each day is full of tiny, beautiful, special moments.
Motherhood is by far the hardest thing I've ever done. But I have no doubt that it will be the most worthwhile thing I ever do.