I want to be honest about something.
When I started this blog, the pregnancy (and definitely the baby!) was a vague, nebulous idea…something I wanted because I knew I wanted to have a child and knew I wanted to be a mother. But I had no idea in hell what it really and truly meant. My blog was so sweet. Talking about morning sickness affecting my sense of self and the importance finding the perfect stroller. All in preparation for this big change that I didn’t really understand. I thought it would just be us + baby. Or me + baby. But still me. Still us.
What I didn’t understand is, having a baby is not like that. It takes who you were and smacks it around a bit, softens it up, and remolds it into something new. Right now I think I’m coming out of the kiln and looking around for some pretty glaze to brighten up the new me. Because the old me? Gone. I mean yes, I am still shaped out of the same old clay. I haven’t…I dunno, switched political affiliations, developed a religious calling or suddenly taken up baking…but in some ways I am wholly different.
So here goes - I was a selfish person before having a baby. I’m not great at sharing. I can be extremely lazy. I don’t like cleaning up after others. I can sometimes give up when things get hard. I have a tendency to let my husband “rescue” me. And I can just be a bit of a whiny brat. Or at least…all of that was true before.
Then I gave birth. Nine hours of pushing and fighting with my own deep darkest self in order to convince myself to keep going, to not give up, and that no one could swoop in and save me. I still cry when I think about how the small, secret, shameful parts of me reared up during birth and said, “No. This is too hard.”
And after he was born? Breastfeeding. Six weeks of repetitive emotional and physical pain that made me want to say again, “I can’t do this. It’s too hard. Can someone else please step in?” Pain that would make me curl into a ball and cry on the bed for my own mommy. Except, I had to keep going.
And then? Motherhood. I began to chafe against the role of being “the one” who goes to takes the baby to bed while everyone else stays up and enjoys themselves. I cringed at having to give up my own meal to take care of my baby. I felt uncomfortable in the role of being the one who gave up in order to give.
The new me has no room for selfishness. Because, frankly, even though I didn’t feel like I could push him out, the truth is – I did. And even though the breastfeeding seemed inhumanely hard – it is now one of my favorite interactions with my baby. And even though I may not like being “the one” who does the majority of the work – I’m learning to do it. And the major difference is I am learning to do these things and be these things innately, minus the resentment or frustration.
And so yes, motherhood has changed me. For the better. I’m not a saint. I still lose it and complain and get resentful and get tired and bitchy. BUT. I am not the same selfish girl I was before. I’ve been reworked into something better.