“What’s one feeling you’ve had since having her that has surprised you?”
One of my best friends posed this question to me a few days ago as I rocked my drowsy five week-old baby girl.
How’s she doing? Are you recovering from the delivery? How do you like breastfeeding? Isn’t it crazy how fast they grow?
I’ve been asked these questions countless times lately. Maggie’s doing well. I’m recovering well. Breastfeeding is complicated but worth it, I think (ask me a month from now). And yes, it’s insane how quickly she grows, changes, and develops adorable rolls of baby chub.
But my friend’s question caught me off guard. Not many people have asked how I feel about being a mom.
Honestly, I hesitate to write about it. I hesitate because when I was pregnant, I felt skeptical of all the women I knew who believed that pregnancy was beautiful and the most wonderful experience of their lives. I doubted their statements about how the negative moments would one day vanish from memory. I admit that I often rolled my mind’s eyes while listening to them recant their fond recollections of pregnancy.
I hesitate, expecting to elicit eye rolling from those of you who can’t relate, to tell you that while I still detest the pregnancy process, I love being a mom.
I don’t just adore my little darling because she’s sweet and beautiful when she’s sleeping. I don’t just love her because she is the product of the most precious relationship I’ve ever had. I don’t just like her when she’s smiling, cooing, or cuddling me.
I mean that I love being a mother in the core of my being.
Most of my life, I’ve found meaning and significance in my career and educational journey. I’ve prided myself on making perfect grades. I’ve patted myself on the back for being an expert problem solver, finding holes and filling them in every job role I’ve ever held. I’ve planned out my days based on making meaningful contributions to others through work and volunteer efforts. That worked for me very well. It made me feel complete and significant.
I am most surprised that right now, I feel more like I am right where I’m supposed to be, doing precisely what I’m supposed to be doing, more than I’ve ever felt that way in my entire life. More fulfilled than I could have possibly imagined I’d feel. More perfectly aligned with God’s goals for me than I’d dreamed.
Even at 2 a.m., while sopping up projectile vomit and wiping away my own tears of pity for my daughter. Even after changing five diapers in 15 minutes while nursing a 48-hour migraine that I can’t alleviate with medication while breastfeeding. Even during the afternoon when I plop my exhausted pajama-clad self into the recliner and gaze around the room at the unswept floor, the pile of laundry to fold, and the Christmas cards to address.
Always, I am where I belong.