I remember the whirlwind of thoughts and feelings I had while being pregnant: “Wow, my body is changing rapidly before my eyes. My skin, hair and nails look amazing! I feel sick. Everyone is being so nice to me. I feel sleepy and dizzy. I love my darling husband. I wonder if we’ll have a boy or a girl. I’m hungry. Please don’t touch me.”
The day our son was born, a switch flipped. I was no longer the young lady with random thoughts before. I was a mother. And I felt a heavy burden of motherhood with very different thoughts and feelings that swept over me: “Will my baby feel loved enough? Will he love us? What if I say the wrong thing and misdirect him? What if his heart is broken? What if he breaks someone else’s heart? What if I fail him … our family … our community and he becomes a criminal? What if he dies before it’s his time?”
I remember people telling me that I’d “be a good mother” but I couldn’t help wondering …was I? I felt as though I was an imposter of a mom because I didn’t have all the answers.
I remember struggling with more questions like: “Is this what will make my baby happy?” When my son wasn’t walking at age 1 and I was taking the approach of ‘he’ll get there when he’s ready while at the same time observing other young kids walking, I would ponder “Is the world forcing me to raise my son into a man much sooner than I’d like?”
I would look into his big beautiful eyes and I’d cry while singing “Baby Mine.” I did not know what to do. My mother wasn’t there to guide me. I wasn’t communicating my needs to my husband. There wasn’t someone to hold my hand and lead the way.
It wasn’t until my mother-in-law visited one day to check in on us when she told me that motherhood can / does feel lonely. She echoed my feelings with her own story of living with three kids of her own with a husband that worked full time and went to school. She helped me realize that other mothers struggle as well and that it’s ok to look and ask for help.
At the time, I was not asking my husband to help with anything. Our marriage suffered greatly during the first year of our son’s life. I was pretending to be ok with doing everything instead of asking him for assistance.
I started to ask him: “Can you please wash the baby bottles? Can you please do a load of laundry? Can you please watch / feed the baby while I take a bath or rest?” I discovered that he WANTED to help me. That he wanted to be the man / hero in this dynamic. We became stronger in our marriage as a result. But then I asked myself, “What kind of woman, wife, and mother do I want to be?”
Every day is an opportunity to learn and grow both for my son and for us. I have found valuable lessons through the innocence of my son’s perspective. I see tremendous learning opportunities for myself as a woman, wife, and mother – and that this never stops. There is no limit to how I can improve upon myself.
This year, I focused on wellness. I sought out a therapist and health coaches, and I started reading my Bible. I started looking for help in the right places, and it’s changing my life for the better. I’m exercising. I’m being more mindful with what I eat and what I put into my mind and soul. The outcome of asking for help has resulted in a better version of myself.
Our son is five now, and I am still working on the answer to that question, “What kind of woman, wife, and mother do I want to be?”