I have been wanting to write this post for a while. In fact, from the day Maria was born I thought I should write about it. Because everywhere you go, you read and hear about how delightful it is to become a parent, how your life will have new meaning and how deeply in love you will be with your little one.
For me, this is all true. Becoming a mother has been an incredible experience. The other day I said to Ahmed, “Can you believe this tiny miracle is our child?”
From the first day, being a mother also felt quite natural to me, even though I had never been crazy about babies and children or someone who knew her entire life that becoming a mom was her ultimate goal. Quite the opposite: For many years, I thought I would pursue a career, and if that meant there was no space for children then so be it.
And despite everything going so smoothly from the birth experience onwards – or actually from my pregnancy, during which I felt great and fitter than ever – there is nothing that prepared me for the overwhelming period of having a newborn. I read books, I attended an antenatal course, I talked to my midwife and heard stories from other moms – I thought I knew what to expect those first few weeks (or months!). Nothing is further from the truth. Actually having a baby is something totally different and brings a whole array of emotions: fear, love, sadness, despair, joy, insecurity, anger, you name it. Albeit rare, there are days I believe I cannot do this. There are moments I think I am losing my sanity. There are seconds I want to scream.
One of the things I have been struggling with in particular is my perfectionism. I like to be in control of my life and don’t let anyone tell me what to do and when. I like to plan 25 hours in one day and get everything on my ToDo list done.
Then comes that little bundle of joy and all this control goes out of the window. I have to wave my self-imposed routine goodbye and instead embrace chaos. It is a change that was not easy to make, to say the least, and every so often I still struggle with it. Maria often messes up my plans for the day when she decides not to sleep in her bassinet. On other days, I am about to leave the house when she has a massive diaper blowout that nearly covers her from head to toe. Want to have dinner ready at 7? Maria wakes up hungry and needs a half-hour feed. Wanna go to bed early or sleep in? If Maria does not have the same idea it is not going to happen!
You get it: My little one decides when it is time for a feed, to play, to wake up, or to cry. She has taken total control over my life. Most of the time I am OK with that, but sometimes – especially when I am tired – it is hard to accept. I think my perfectionist nature makes it even more challenging.
Nevertheless, I try to enjoy every moment with Maria and remind myself that “this too shall pass”. Because while it is true that it is sometimes heavy to wear her in the sling for hours and hours, I know one day I will miss the time we were this close. And yes, I wish I could stick to a rigid training regime and smash my marathon time, but I may be able to do so one day in the future. I know there will come a time I have life in my own hands again. In the meantime, now is the perfect opportunity to let go of my perfectionism, my need to be in control and my overly diligent nature, and live in the moment instead. Her smiles and coos make this a lot easier.
With this experience as a mother also comes a new level of respect for other parents, including my own. Everything I struggle with or go through they have struggled with and gone through before. They have woken up at night to change my nappy or feed me. They have endured my developmental struggles and enjoyed my milestones. It is this cycle that makes it even more special to raise a child into a loving adult, and I am very excited to have embarked on this journey with the birth of our beautiful daughter.
Photo credits: Petri van Beuzekom