I’ve always wanted to be a mother. Even when I was young, I knew that it would be a role that I would embrace with my whole being. I must have known subconsciously that it would be something I would take seriously given the time I devoted to my childhood dolls. But I became one quite late in my life (late by society’s standards I guess). My OB even joked that I’m already a late primi (primigravida, first time to be pregnant) when I had my first appointment with her.
I gave birth to my daughter a few days shy of my 30th birthday. Needless to say, I welcomed my 3rd decade with a spanking new role highlighted with a swollen nether region and engorged boobies.
I looked horrible. I constantly smelled like milk. My eyebags were at their worst. My body felt like I got pummeled and punched.
But it was also when I felt my heart to be at its fullest.
Motherhood came to me in tiny doses
❤️ The first time I saw the positive pregnancy test, I felt a wave of gratitude for the gift and blessing of a child.
❤️ The first time my pregnancy was confirmed via a transvaginal ultrasound, I felt a wave of protectiveness and urge to be more disciplined with all that I do moving forward.
❤️ The first time I heard her heartbeats, I became very much aware that there were two of us, two lives in my body.
❤️ The first time I felt a kick, I sensed an instant connection that perhaps those kicks are my baby’s way to communicate with me.
❤️ The first time I saw her face when we had a 4D ultrasound, I felt like she knew that we were watching her and took the time to be extra cute.
❤️ The first time we bought a baby item, I was almost in tears because it’s becoming more and more real.
❤️ The first time I felt the contractions, I was instantly excited though a little bit scared if I could push her out safely.
❤️ The first time I heard her cry — MY WHOLE LIFE SUDDENLY CHANGED.
While I know that it may not be for everyone, motherhood has become that defining moment where my priorities, decisions and constant thoughts are for her and about her.
I am now driven to act in a way that my daughter will be proud of me. I now have this certain awareness that young eyes and ears are always observing and absorbing what she sees and hears.
I am still a new mom, a noob if you would call it that. I’ve only been at this mothering gig for 3 years now and I still have a long way to go. I still have a lot to learn, a lot of tantrums to tame, a lot more uneaten food left on the table to clean up.
But for the past three years, motherhood has taught me a lot and reinforced some long dormant values from before.
No matter how many books you read, nothing can prepare you for the real thing
Early in my pregnancy, I became obsessed with doing it right. I mean, it felt kind of normal to want that because any parent would want the best for their child. However, the more I absorbed parenthood books, the more I dive deep into parenthood groups – the more I felt lacking and frantic and anxious.
It took me about a month of being a mess before I called it quits with every group I joined and every book I was reading.
And I felt lighter. I realized that I don’t have to read all these books at once. It dawned on me that these support groups and books are there to support and guide and should not be the be-all-end-all of my motherhood. And once I accepted that I just cannot execute every single thing I read and see, motherhood felt more natural and relaxed.
TRUST your instinct. Listen to your baby.
No one knows your baby like you do. You are the first person to ever have that close proximity to that child. Trust yourself and listen to what your child is telling you. I carried. I hugged. I cuddled in long periods. I breastfed for a while but pumped even longer. I co-sleep. I don’t let her cry it out. And I have no regrets.
Listen to your baby’s cues and learn to filter out what other people are saying. Most often than not, other people will be trying to correct you or “advise” you based on a general idea or maybe based on what worked for them. They may be right but you’re also NOT WRONG.
But your child is not their child. And always remember that the most important voice is yours and your baby’s.
Join your baby in your photos and videos
There was a time when I just finished pumping and my boobs were sore and still a bit leaky. But my daughter just woke up from a nap and was in a glorious mood. I can’t help but to take a photo to remember that moment. But at the same time, I also wanted to share as much photos with her as possible. So I took another one, this time, with me in it – leaky boobs, mom bun and all that fun motherhood glory.
I know that a lot of people these days are anxious to post a photo online where you feel even a tiny bit of imperfection. And I get that. Social media can sometimes (aka always) be a toxic and degrading place to be. But don’t let this prevent you from making those memories with your child. You don’t even have to upload them.
Be in the photo.
Be in the video.
Share in the moment.
So that someday, when your child looks back at all your digital memories, he can see what a fun childhood he had and how you joined in on the fun, leaky boobs and all.
Never underestimate your child
I will admit that I am guilty of this. At 2 years and 7 months, my daughter lost her grandmother, my mom. It was a period of being in and out of the hospital, being so busy and all over the place then finally laying my mother to her final resting place. I was initially worried at how my daughter will cope without me to tuck her in bed at night (especially on my first day in the hospital) because we’ve never really been apart.
But I was surprised and amazed at how she took everything in stride. She was patient, understanding and was always rubbing my back, touching my arm and hugging me. She was the one running around the house waiting for my husband’s orders on what they need to pack to send over to the hospital. She was more behaved than I’ve ever seen her. My husband would drive back and forth to the hospital to bring supplies and whatnot, sometimes even, during late in the evening and she would be so wiped out and fall asleep in the car. She was barely 3 but she showed so much maturity in grasping the idea of sacrifice, death, love and keeping memories alive.
Patience will play a huge role in your child’s happiness
Raising a child can either make or break you depending on how you choose to respond to your child’s growth. A newborn can be needy and can challenge your sleeping pattern. A toddler will need your attention and tend to absorb all your strength and energy.
Aside from that, toddlers can be very inquisitive, highly emotional and a tad bit self centered. And they can have intense meltdowns too. In times like this, it is crucial to keep your cool, to know how to respond and react in a way that will not be hurtful to both parent and child.
Patience has truly served me and my husband well. While our daughter was navigating toddlerhood, we were also exploring our capacity to respond appropriately. There was a time when I would scream when she does and be irate when she’s irate. But it didn’t really give us the outcome that we were gunning for. She didn’t learn anything from us when we chose to have a screaming match with her.
Eventually, we learned to reinforce positively and react patiently. We learned to allow her to express her feelings, navigate through her emotions and patiently wait for her to come out of a meltdown.
Because of this, we’ve seen how she has also learned to communicate her emotions more freely and I feel like it has made her a happier and more truthful child.
She now knows that she doesn’t really need to scream and shout to demand something from us. She now knows that she can tell us when she’s not happy with Mommy and/or Daddy and that we won’t even berate her for calling us out. She understands that she needs to apologize when necessary and that we will also say sorry if we did something wrong to her.
We showed her that there’s power in her voice and she came to respect ours.
This was not something that came easily and smoothly. We had to work on it as a family.
It took a lot of patience and effort. A lot of effort and patience.
These days, she would go to us randomly to express her emotions and no matter how simple it may be, we always acknowledge and validate her feelings so she also knows to do the same with ours.
She would go, “Mommy, I’m sad nina (kanina) because Daddy did not dance with me” (while husband was doing something important).
And I will tell her that it’s okay to be sad but … (then proceed to explain why she didn’t get what she wanted.) In this case, my husband didn’t join her dancing in one of the Disney Jr commercials because he was doing something urgent. So now, she has an idea that we are always available for her but on times that we’re not, she just needs to wait for us.
It takes a special kind of patience, crazy love and understanding to grow little humans. And what we always have to remember is that, it’s only going to be for a season. What you may be getting so stressed about today may be something that you will miss tomorrow because it’s true, they do grow up so fast. They mature right in front of your eyes and the babies that you once cuddled and fed in your boobies are now asking out-of-this-world questions and testing the living sh*t out of you.
It’s a crazy ride.
But it’s the B E S T.