It has been 1600+ days since the birth of my son, Jrue, signaling the official propelled junction of the motherhood journey for me. 4 years, 4 months, and 30 days ago, I spent almost 9 hours actively pursuing the birth of my son.
I remember my panic when the nurses told me that I had had “too much” of my epidural to safely push, so they were going to “turn it off.” I had nowhere to go but forward into the ring of fire. I pushed when I felt the urge to do so. I forced myself not to say I couldn’t do it and not to scream and waste my quickly-lagging energy. For countless contractions, I failed to push effectively and did not notice that more than an hour of effort had gone by. After 2 hours, my 7-pound newborn emerged, eyes opened and blinking as he shrieked. I recall the nurses laying him on my chest and how hot he felt and how splayed his limbs were.
All I could do at that moment was express thankfulness repeatedly and wrap him close to me for comfort. There was nothing I wanted more than for him to feel mommy’s warmth and the love that daddy was waiting to envelope around him.
I began motherhood immediately. The flood was real from that minute forward.
Jrue was born at 3:50 p.m. Due to fasting to prepare for induction and labor, I hadn’t yet fed the baby that day. I needed magnesium after giving birth and started that process just after stitches, so I could not feed my baby when I wanted. Jrue went to the nursery for tests and bathing. I was asked if he could have a pacifier, not realizing the nipple confusion to come. I was instructed to rest to promote healing, but, by 7 p.m., I needed him near me. Jrue was carted in bundled on his little bed to our room, and I felt comfortable.
Then I didn’t.
I hadn’t eaten and was literally starving. Jrue hadn’t had mommy’s milk. I became distraught. The hubs bought me some vending snacks. Since I still had fluids pumping back into my body, I requested formula…anything…for Jrue. It was almost 11 at night before my little guy had food, and I was fuming as he gulped it down. But I understood…there was little alternative right then. I had to recover.
These were my first lessons.
I wore my protection cloak already, fretting about his eating schedule as I was endangered myself. I had to accept the realities of where I was and trust the instruction I had been given.
It was hard.
The lessons did not get easier. It became about co-sleeping and tummy time, pumping and supplementing, flat nipples and carriers and travel systems and rolling off beds. Jrue soon discovered the joys of throwing food and of mommy picking up everything that was hijacked playfully to the floor. He cruised and crawled, then stood, then refused to step until 13 months. He did at-home childcare and tot swim class. There were “Terrible Two’s” before age two.
Then baby sister, Jai, arrived.
The lessons instantly doubled, sometimes tripled, sometimes daily.
I know it’s hard and harder. I recognize inner turmoil, exhaustion, frustration. Ass-out-tiredness. I have researched the importance of mommy time-outs and treating myself to get through some days. I know I can’t be perfect, so why…
Why do I still try? Why do I continue to pursue “more” in motherhood when my children are optimally happy and healthy? Where does this insistency come from?
For one, social media dictates a bit of pressure in the sense that I am in a self-imposed spotlight. If I post that Jai is walking, I must produce the proof for family who weren’t there on the day she took her first forward motion, which is, well, everyone I am “friends” with. I must capture experiences for grandparents and engage in conversations with friends as not to feel “out of sorts.” I started a blog because I needed a vocal outlet through which to pitch testimonials and ask questions with the sole purpose of determining if me, my husband, and my children are plumb crazy or just normal.
Of course, I shouldn’t care. I shouldn’t think about how others may perceive the “Three-Day Potty Training Method” or my decision to raise my daughter with her natural curls.
But I do care. Very much.
Carrying a level of sociability and connection is equal to using Google to find answers to the best Chinese restaurant in an area or finding out when new Jordan’s are released or how to do proper bra measurements. We care about those things. I care about parenting methodologies.
Even with its pressures.
Here’s what I really need to remember next year on this day when I look back at this post and want to see how far I emerged: I have to keep my feet on the floor.
I have to stay on Earth.
Or else I’ll flap away in a tizzy.
When I start to think of next week and the week after and kindergarten and ballet for Jai and graduation cookouts and into the future, I suffocate the “now.” I don’t want to miss putting them to bed tonight. I don’t want to miss “Elmo’s Potty Time” after school tomorrow for the 529th time. When the tension is allowed to manifest, it can bump and buckle and physically/emotionally/mentally/spiritually remove me from the two young people I am overthinking about.
There will be a time when thoughts will run rampant and I can feel temporarily overwhelmed at the tasks imparted upon me. Yet, I must stay grounded in realism.
There will be a time when I want to do everything for everyone and will become upset because a “no” is necessary. No, I can’t clean the house today. No, I can’t playdate that weekend. Yet, I must conquer the feeling of failure.
Beat it off with a bat.
Keeping my children fed every day is “perfect” mothering. Kissing them and allowing them to feel unconditional love is “perfect.” Laughing and tickling and reading and learning is “perfection.” Taking time to nurture my marriage so that my children can experience their father each day and be witness to a healthy love is undeniably exactly what my pursuit should be about.
I just must plant my feet on the ground as I do them.
Mea, girl, it’s time to invest in some heavier shoes.
Let’s talk next year.