I am a young mother compared to my colleagues in Chicago or my friends in New York City or my brother who is two years older and has yet to consider having a child.
I was 26 when I got pregnant, still fresh in the workplace and filled with ambition to climb the ranks of corporate adulthood. But baby was on the way, and I knew my life would change forever.
For a while I juggled motherhood and career while I tried to maintain a healthy marriage and date my spouse. I worked out, practiced yoga, cooked healthy meals and paid the bills. I cleaned my house, I walked my dog and occasionally I remembered to pick up the mail.
When child number two came along, I realized something had to give, and it was going to be my hard-earned paycheck.
As I sat home nursing a newborn and rocking my two-year-old to sleep, I lived vicariously through my friends who finally had a tiny bit of savings to travel or were changing careers or moving across the world because they’d fallen in love while abroad. The baby cooing in my arms reassured me there was no place I’d rather be. The aches in my body as it returned (somewhat) back to normal were a reminder that everything had changed.
Everything had changed.
I would tell my friends across the world, “Everything is different now.” They would laugh and say, “Everyone does it!” They’d hang up the phone to tend to feeding a cat or ordering takeout. I’d scramble to find clothes that fit, a bra that was not stained by milk, all while cleaning up the aftermath of potty training.
Now that both of my kids are going into elementary school, and my friends are having their first children in their mid-thirties, they are telling me, “Motherhood—WTF! Everything has changed!”
I try to hold back a chuckle, because I remember that exact moment when I felt everything had changed. My body, my hormones, my belief system, my partnership. My career life, my sex life, my mood, my friendships.
And this is why—life has grown in you, crawled through you, depended on you, kissed you, slept beside you, talked back to you, melted down in front of you, cried to you, bitten you, and then one day turned toward you and said, “I love you.”
Yes, everything has changed.
This thing called motherhood is one of life’s greatest experiences. It is a journey that will take you a million times around the world and to the most exotic destinations imaginable: kindergarten camp-outs, Parent-Teacher meetings and even lunch duty at school—all while wearing a hair net!
This thing called motherhood will make your heart flutter when your son says he wants to marry you. It will have you jumping for joy when your daughter writes her first sentence. It will shake you to the core when you hear your child’s cry from a distance, because it is your baby’s song, and you have it memorized.
This thing called motherhood will cause you to go blind reading articles in the middle of the night on attachment parenting and average speech development for a first grader. It will keep you awake and it will have you counting down the hours until bedtime.
Indeed, everything has changed—but one thing has not: you are still you.
In the chaos of this all, do not lose yourself. Nurture yourself equally. Listen to your own needs equally. Love your self, your body, and tend to your soul’s garden equally (if not more). You are mother, but first you are you.
Today, celebrate you—with that title of Mother as an additional life experience. Embrace all this change, while clinging on as tightly as possible to perseverance.
Author: Ashley Martinez
Editor: Yoli Ramazzina
Photo: Flickr/Alena Getman