Thursday, November 9, 2017

on firm ground.

Two years ago this week, I wrote this post. I was riding the roller coaster of post-partum emotion, giddy with love and oxytocin one minute and crashing from exhaustion the next.

Two years later and I find myself writing a different, yet similar post.

We just celebrated Eva's second birthday and it was perfect. R and I made a last minute decision to skip even a small party and just celebrate with my Mom and sister who were in town for the week. We stayed in our pajama's all morning and ate birthday pancakes and spread the gift opening throughout the whole day. It was relaxed and sweet and I may never throw another birthday party ever again.

The lazy day gave me the time to remember everything I was doing the day she was born and in the weeks that followed.

In those first few days of Eva's life, I was caught in the riptide of joy and fear, exhaustion and awe. A constant ebbing of emotions that felt bigger than me kept knocking the wind out of me. From where I stand now, two years later, those same emotions are ebbing up and crashing, but I'm thankful to be standing on firmer ground now.

I'm standing on ground made firm by confidence. I don't have to wonder if I can keep this little person alive or if I have what it takes to be her mom- I have 730 days of proof that I can and I do. Every day that she doesn't get scurvy from eating only Goldfish or I don't empty my bank account and drive off to forge a new kid-less identity is a day that reminds me that we're going to make it. And so grows my confidence.

I'm also standing on ground made firm by God. In the first weeks and months of motherhood, my whole identity was wrapped up, swaddled if you will, with being Eva's mom. If I did that well, then I was okay. But if I messed that up, then I was a failure. The problem with that thinking was that the potential to mess up was lurking literally everywhere. You only have to be pregnant for approximately 12 minutes to know how much pressure exists to "get it right" as a mom. I believed the lie, hook line and sinker, that there was a right way and a wrong way to mother and I went about the task of figuring out the right ways. I talked a little about kicking that to the curb. And I found my way back to the truth that my worth does not hinge on my success or failure as a mom. It was a life giving change. It changed so much about the way I mother.

But also much has remained. I think it just two short years, what I've come to know about motherhood is that you just keep circling back over the same ground in a different way, made with new insight or new humility. My own mother who has been mothering for nearly four decades seems to concur.

There is still joy like I couldn't have predicted in my wildest dreams. Her delight at new discoveries and budding friendships. The way she says "Daddy!" when R walks into the room, even when he's only been gone a little while. Her laughter, deep and unhindered. The feel of her growing body against mine as I sing her our goodnight songs.

There is still exhaustion. Even when I get 8 hours of sleep, there are still battles to be fought all day long, boundaries to be pushed, rules to question and break. The care and keeping of toddlers is enough to wear down even the most well-rested parents and our headstrong little wilding is no exception. I sigh heavy when I finally make it to 7:30 after the longest days and the mental exhaustion whirs along still, long after bedtime.

There is still fear. Not the kind that took my breath away in the first weeks and months. As I said before, those chains are broken for me- the kind of fear that made my chest feel tight and my heart race and my palms sweat. But there is still fear. Am I doing enough to stimulate her mind? Is she getting enough iron and Vitamin A? Are we watching too much TV? Are we using discipline and boundaries well? Each question opens the door for thirty more questions and before you know it, I'm having to talk myself back down off the ledge.

But there is still so much awe. Somehow, in two full years, that feeling hasn't waned and I pray it never does. I still look at her just like I did the moment they handed her to me and marvel at this little person that is both my flesh and blood and also completely separate of me. I'm in awe of watching her brain grow and make connections and discoveries about the world around her. There is awe as R and I stumble and stride through parenthood, with absolutely no guidebook or precedent, and somehow we all remain intact and alive. Once in a while, we'll all be piled into bed in the morning, even the dog, and I'll feel like my heart could burst open wide at the awe that I've been given these lives to love.

Photos by Melissa Yates Photography
Two years have both flown and somehow crawled by and I'm humbled by the journey of motherhood almost daily, especially as I write this with a whole new little person nestled inside me. I'm sure I'll revisit this ground again, the awe and the fear, over and over with her as well.

As long as I'm standing on firm ground, let the waves crash.

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