I really love being a mom, I do. I love it more than I had ever anticipated I could. I take and post about a million pictures of my smiley, handsome, bright, mind-blowingly awesome little boy. Unapologetically so. I’m sure I’m guilty of portraying motherhood as all smiles and delight. Romantic images of snuggles and giggles, of first steps and perfect outfits; adventures that make younger couples day dream about their chance to have a little one in the years to come. It’s all true, ya know? Sure he cries, and there are challenging days where every little thing is a battle. The joy and delight captured in those photos are real though, almost tangible in our home.
But the really hard stuff, the part that has made the last 2 years of my life a mixture of incredible joy and painful grief, can’t be photographed.
I can’t take a picture of the nights I’ve been sick and desperately wanted my husband to be able to take care of me rather than having to care for our toddler.
I can’t take a picture of a date night spent talking only of our child or to-do lists and never of the deepest parts of ourselves that we once had and made time for.
I can’t take a picture of the grief I feel when I think of the life my husband and I used to live and how deeply I miss it.
My heart aches some nights for a time when we could come and go as we pleased. Sleep or not sleep. Eat french bread and wine for dinner. Spur of the moment drives to the mountains. Snow day movie marathons. Laying in bed until 10am. But, don’t mistake my longing for these things to be of the tangible sort; I think what I really miss is my own needs, wants, and desires being much higher on our list of priorities.
I feel like I talk to moms all the time who have no idea what I’m talking about. “Life with baby is a million times better than life before!” But I don’t resonate with that. Life with my son and husband is amazing and it was amazing before my son, too. Maybe it just can’t be compared. Maybe I’m bogged down by grief that will dissipate overtime as I emerge from the “new mom” stage and morph into “seasoned” or better yet “veteran mom” stage. Maybe I’ll have a different story to tell in a few years as I journey at my own pace through this disorienting new chapter. I’m open to that.
But it seems that if my joy and my heart have grown exponentially (as I feel they have) why couldn’t grief be proportionate to that?
Joy for the new life I celebrate with my two favorite guys. Grief for the life we used to live before our son.
Joy for a season I get to focus on nurturing my family full time as a SAHM. Grief for endless amounts of space to focus on me and my needs.
Joy for learning every day about the tiny person I’ve been entrusted to raise. Grief for the realization that I haven’t “arrived” in a place where I am impervious to being triggered by my own child.
Joy for the chance to partner with my best friend on a new adventure. Grief for the challenges parenting has introduced to our marriage.
Joy in every giggle, smile, snuggle, hug, and kiss. Grief for the realization that my baby is growing quicker than I keep up with.
There are so many new things I’m being given the opportunity to say YES to, but I’m also keenly aware of the things I’m also choosing to say No to. Maybe it’s a “glass half empty” kind of world to me, I don’t know. But I know parenthood, for me, has brought great joy and great heartache and I anticipate wrestling with that for years to come.