As I open the front door, the seventy-five degree January day stops me in my tracks. It always has, ever since moving from snow to sunshine a decade ago. A warm breeze ruffles the palm tree in our neighbor’s yard and sends a little ripple of sound through our otherwise quiet neighborhood. I take a deep breath in and smell the jasmine from our other neighbor’s bush. I exhale gratitude. I’ve always been a bit of a brown thumb myself.
Funny how sometimes life has to smack you in the face before you "get it". One day, I was operating reasonably fine and the next, I was in the midst of a tearful breakdown over having to restart my computer and lose my bookmarks for some unforeseen reason. It was as if I was running on fumes; adrenaline—whatever you want to call it. The "straw that broke the camel's back"—or whatever proverb you'd like to use. I was pushed over the edge and there was no clear path for bringing me back. Even after my husband came to my rescue and found my long-lost bookmarks in an annoyingly little amount of time, I still couldn't seem to pull myself together. Yes, this was much deeper than a computer mishap. It was as if the flood of built-up anger, helplessness and resentment of the last four months came rushing out all at once. Cathartic, really. And looking back on this, it was long overdue.
It was early on a Monday morning. Our bedroom was dark, with just a pinch of moonlight showing through our open window. I could see the outline of my husband turned towards the nightstand. The sounds of the fan and the noisemaker from our registry were permeating the cool air. A soft breeze was blowing through the room. Yet despite all of this, I could still hear my husband and my dog snoring.
And just like that, he is one. I am no longer a mother of a newborn. That is no longer my identity. It is this identity that I have lived with for what feels like so long. Seemingly, I rubbed my eyes, poured my coffee—and boom, there was a toddler. There is no level on which I am ready to accept this. Inside, I’m pleading—give me back the newborn onesies, the burp clothes and breastfeeding accoutrement I have packed away so neatly in plastic containers I store for another time, or to give away to friends. No longer needed, they’ve been pushed aside—somewhat analogous to how I’m feeling in this season of motherhood. They are the cherished relics of what I felt would be the hardest time. They elicit a sense of nostalgia. The strong and somewhat nauseating smell of baby detergent enveloping us both as we would rock in the glider, or cry together on the couch. It still sits on my nose to this day.
It’s my second Mother’s Day, and I still haven’t been able to make space to write about my journey to motherhood. Because of his prompt entrance to the world—both in utero and out—it left me with what seemed like an extremely small amount of time to process my new role. In fact, almost fourteen months of experience on my resume does not yield me much more confidence than the first day I peed on a stick. There is so much I do not know, and I've admitted that so often I feel buried in it. And funny enough, I find myself admitting that even in circumstances where I feel somewhat confident I am right.
I’ve been doing a lot of heavy thinking and writing over the last few weeks of quarantine, so I’m ready to lighten things up a little bit and talk about something that makes me feel good: organization. This probably started with my sneaky type-A tendencies disguised in a chill person’s body, but ever since I became pregnant I felt the need to color-code, categorize and sort my life. I will say I am by no means an expert, nor do I abide by this 100% of the time. This was also something I needed to do for myself to help cope with the prenatal anxiety I was feeling. Somehow, if I had all. the. things. (and appropriate places to organize them all), my mental perspective surrounding becoming a mom would be better. Ha! Well, turns out that’s not the Golden Ticket to happiness, but it sure helped me a little bit. Here’s some of my best practices...
I recently attended a function with my husband and we brought along the little dude. He likes to look at people, but he is a tough nut to crack. It doesn’t stop people from trying. He’s a bit of a conversation starter in this regard. So for semi-socially awkward people like me, a baby is an immediate common ground for conversation with some. This particular night, a woman walked up to me and started chatting about the baby. Mid-way through the conversation, she asked me “so, what did you do before you were a mommy?”
Our journey to conceiving a little one was shorter than most. We decided we would try, and then boom - it happened. I realize that this is not everyone’s story, and I also realize that we are lucky. I am currently working on some process writing for how I navigated that guilt as I concurrently dealt with my prenatal anxiety and depression. But perhaps another contributing factor to this was my gender disappointment. I’ve heard a few other brave women talk about this, so I figured I’d share my story as well. This is not a popular topic. And there are many critics who would say “you should just be grateful that you could get pregnant”. But I would not be being true and honest if I did not share this journey of mine as well.
I’ve considered myself and my husband to be reasonably healthy people. Sure, our diets and exercise levels certainly could use some improvement, but I typically only see my primary care physician annually. My husband never even went to the doctor until we were together. It’s safe to say that nothing could have prepared us for the onslaught of sickness we experienced this year. My mom friends and coworkers warned me, but I equate this with pregnancy and labor: nothing anyone ever tells you can prepare you for the actual experience.
I'm not sure what parents did before they had the internet at their fingertips. Arguably, perhaps the world was a bit easier to cope with when there wasn't as much information overload. Perhaps my anxiety would not be so bad, and perhaps I'd be coping better as a new parent. Or maybe not! But all I know is that throughout pregnancy, maternity leave and still to this day, I am heavily reliant on good ol' Google to deliver me all of the information I need to get through the day.
Hi! I'm Laura, a 30-something mama raising her 2 little dudes in southern California. It's been quite a journey and this is my way to try to make sense of it all. This is a safe space for all moms to get some laughs, recommendations and feel like they are not alone.