Image by Marie-Luise
I knew being a mother would be one of the hardest yet one of the happiest phases in my life. I read lots of parenting books while pregnant with my first child, I listened to all sorts of advice the people around me freely gave and I constantly asked the hard questions to try prepare myself for the impeding change a little one brings. I honestly thought I had prepared as much as I could for the new and exciting role. Never in my wildest dreams did I think it would pull, prod and stretch me in directions I never knew possible.
We eagerly anticipated Grace’s arrival so when she finally arrived, she brought immense joy into our lives. The days that followed were difficult, but we knew they would be. However, the degree of difficulty overwhelmed me. Sure, there were factors and issues which were beyond our control which didn’t help but I vividly remember sitting in Grace’s nursery fully immersed in an intense emotional roller coaster ride. One moment I would be crying because all I wanted for my baby girl was to marry an amazing man like her Daddy and to have a beautiful child like herself to hold in her arms so she could feel the joy I was experienced. The next moment, however, I’d be in tears again because all I wanted to do was put my suit on and go to work because I craved to do something I was familiar with, do something I was good at and have people appreciate my work and give my positive feedback. The new routine, sleep deprivation, not understanding my baby, absolutely everything was so foreign to me. I was so ready to go back to work despite advising my employer that I’d be taking 13 months off. Luckily, I had a caring and understanding husband who lovingly helped and guided me to increase in confidence not only in myself but in my own abilities as a mother.
I thought I was better prepared when Xavier came along and in many ways, I was. But again, after a few weeks following his birth, I felt myself wanting to return to work early, not because I wanted to do something I was familiar with but because his high energy and personality was such a big shift from what I expected after having a gentle, sweet girl. There were many days where I would hide in the toilet, needing just a few moments to myself while a screaming toddler stood outside the locked door. After 13 months of maternity leave, I had no shame in enjoying the opportunity to eat in peace, pee in peace and even work in peace. Going to work felt like genuine breaks in my week. I would look at other full time mothers and wonder in awe at how they could do it 24-7. I was perfectly aware that my mental capacity to do so was not as strong and I beat myself up for that.
Now I am pregnant with number three, I can honestly say I’m in a good place with my relationship with motherhood. I definitely experienced joy with my first two but I feel that I don’t have glimpses of happiness anymore – I have many instances where I go to bed at night and look back on my day with such joy. I really feel at peace with being a mother and most of the time, I love it so much. When I had this realisation, I was so excited to tell my husband this – that I feel like I’m at a stage in my life where I could do this motherhood gig full time and even he was so surprised.
I’m not saying I won’t return to work. They treat me incredibly well and I feel that my career defines a part of who I am. But it has been such a journey for me to reach this point, where I can say even though some days are long and hard, I still find the joy and happiness motherhood brings. Motherhood means I have two little people who genuinely think I am the funniest person on earth, even if my husband tries to persuade them otherwise. Motherhood means I have magic kisses which can heal a sore that just moments ago, was incredibly painful. Motherhood means I have little people who love me so much, and unconditionally. And I know my relationship with motherhood will continue to change as my children grow up. But I know one thing will remain constant. Motherhood is joy. My children really bring me so much happiness. I have never experienced so much joy in great intensity as I have as a mother. I know the tough times motherhood brings only makes the happy moments all that more sweeter. My relationship with motherhood, at the end of the day, really is joy and I’m so excited to not only fully understand this, but experience it as well.