**WARNING: Long post ahead**
Apologies for all the non ‘professional’ photos that you will see in this post and the ones related to it, but most of my personal life has been captured in the moment. Usually from our phones. So while the photos aren’t pretty, I hope you can appreciate that they are real instead hehe :)
Also, If you’re wondering why I have taken so long to write a post about motherhood, and all its pitfalls, joys, and battlescars, I somehow feel like I come up short with the right words. But I’ll try.. here goes my heart for the last 11 months.
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It’s late. She’s finally asleep. And I’m sitting here on my bed, with her inside her cot, next to me.
I hear the sound of cars in the distance, and the buzzing of her white noise machine whirring away on the bedside table as usual, and I catch myself realizing it has been almost one year since she came into our lives.
I don’t often get much time to pause and think these days (I’m sure most mothers can attest to this) as sleep usually wins in terms of needs on our list of things to do. However, this one makes me stop.
“I can’t believe she is already 11 months old…” I say to myself.
It almost takes my breath away knowing that time has somehow escaped our grasp this quickly, like a wild running waterfall that spills over the biggest of cliffs. It certainly hasn’t felt like a year. “More like a mere few months at most?”.
When sienna was brand new, a lot of the mothers that spoke to me and shared their words of wisdom, often told me “the days are long, but the years are short”.
I always found the saying really strange. A paradox that I just could not reconcile in my mind. I couldn’t quite understand it’s meaning in my newly minted mother-status. But I do now.
As a mum, each day is tiring. Some days are joys and wins. And others are battles. The rest, just fall in between the middle-of-the-road normal of fighting to stay awake, endless nappy changes, puke stains on newly washed clothes, while making sure our child gets all her sleep, her nutrients, her milk, her liquids, and stays clean enough to not get herself sick. Let’s not mention if we even get time to have a meal or a shower uninterrupted. I remember in the newborn fog, those things were luxuries, optional ones at that.
It varies between mother to mother, but we all share the same sentiment: The days, can feel very very stretched. Especially for those mothers out there who do it completely alone. I salute these women. They’re tough. They’re independent. They’re strong and resourceful. These are totally badass women and I love everything about what they can handle. These mothers manage an entire household, look after their babies, their husbands (to those who are single mothers or fathers, you’re at the top of my respect list), and still have to find a way to eat, work, shower, and sleep. Typing that very paragraph already makes me tired. To live this each and everyday as a reality? RESPECT. I have the blessing of family, my husband, and help, with my little sienna when I am working or travelling, and I am already exhausted, so trust me when I say I think these women who do it alone are incredible.
I look back at Sienna’s resting face this evening, and her small little frame, wrapped up in her floral nighttime onesie. I can’t help but study her round cuddly features from time to time….Yes, it’s a weird thing we parents like to do… look at our kids while they’re sleeping. Its an extremely peaceful and calming sight, and even despite the worst of days, when they return to their beds, and their eyes lids close from heaviness, we love them again with an overflowing soul crushing kind of love. The kind of love that wants to burst through the walls from its weight and might. It is a phenomenon that happens every night. A renewing of sorts.
11 months in, I understand why mothers say their children drive them crazy, but they love them so much it hurts. We live with this paradox everyday.
The irony of all this is… We mothers love it. We wouldn’t trade this thing called parenthood for the world. Call us crazy, but children do that to you. I have never thought of myself as very maternal or clucky, but having a little person who is my very own has taught me so much about self sacrifice, patience, forgiveness, letting go, slowing down, being present in the moment, perspectives of the bigger picture, and knowing what are the right battles to pick. But lessons mainly about love. So so so much about love. I’ll need another post for that alone. And I know I am still learning. Forever a student.
It is at this moment I notice her eyelashes… it’s always her eyelashes first. They’re so long. It kind of surprises me each time, even though they don’t really change. I sometimes wonder where she gets them from because Ju and I definitely haven’t been blessed with such a pretty attribute. Then my thoughts always drift to, “who does she look more like? Ju? Me?” . People often say she resembles her daddy. And I will admit, she has so much of her father in her. Both the physical and the personality traits. Yet, at the same time, when I study her more and more, I realize she is a rather equal balance of the both of us. I don’t know if any one thing about her is truly Ju, or me.
For example, her eyes. Her eyes have single eyelids, but the size of the eyes are like mine. Or her lips for instance… They are small in size like mine, but the shape? They are pouty like her father’s. And then, there is her character. Her giant character. She can be all sorts of happy and funny and joyful… but at the same time she is also superbly stubborn, and feisty, and knows exactly what she wants when she wants it. Just thinking over that makes me laugh…. She has SO much personality. It literally bursts through every day and she wears it through her entire body. It makes me chuckle every single time.
“But Jenny, you stil havent told us what has motherhood been like these past 11 months? ” I hear you asking.
I don’t know if any one word would aptly describe it… busy? tiring? challenging? rewarding? joyful? complete…?
One thing is for sure though… I have lived a much quieter life since Sienna came into this world. Quieter, not in the sense of literal noise. For she is one LOUD and noisy baby, and definitely has a good set of lungs on her. But quiet in the sense that my life has been a lot slower since she came about. That doesn’t mean I am no longer busy. It just means being a mother has forced me to be in the moment alot more. I used to be SO SO busy with work. And my mind was in a million and one places at a time. I was constantly on the go. And while I got more sleep then, vs now, I felt like I was never settled. I was always flying, and living out of a suitcase.
Don’t get me wrong, the work was good and I will never complain about the blessing of being able to earn, especially in this economy today. I just always felt adrift and no place was really home. It drove me crazy at times. So let me say, it has been marvelous…wonderfully fulfilling in fact, to be planted in one place. And living what I like to call it the ‘quiet life’. I know a lot of people out there are chasing the glamour and the fame and the money, and there is nothing wrong with that. But let me tell you, that this quiet-life is so underrated. People should try it more often. It is so beautiful. After 9 years of crazy, I’ve finally had time to stop and rekindle friendships. To actually BE with people. To Live life WITH them. And that in turn, has brought around so much joy and fulfillment. There really is no life, without people to live and love with :)
Anyway, before this becomes a book, I just wanted to say, motherhood in the last 11 months? Has been all kinds of wonderful and terrible. But mostly under the wonderful umbrella :) The start was rough. Very rough (you can read more about it in the 0-3 month section below)…I felt so lost under the waves of anxiety of whether I was doing things right, or if I would ever survive being a parent and feel human again. I swore I would never want another kid. I cried. I wondered what was wrong with my child. I wondered what was wrong with me. Then one day, the fog slowly began to clear, and things started to seem less painful. Either I was getting used to things, or Sienna was getting used to things.
I realized, actually it was both :)
And it was then that I realised it takes time to love someone. I expected to be head over heels in love with my baby as soon as she was born and just adore being a mother…. but Just like any other relationship, you need time to know the other person, be with them, bond with them, and learn about them inside out to reach the falling in love stage. Anyway, at least we got there in the end….it took longer than I expected, but happened. And that’s all that matters :) More importantly, the love grows with each and every day.
Since then, she has grown up to be such a wonderful little baby girl. I look forward to her cuddles and her cheeky mischievous nature every day when our eyelids first wake from the haze of a night’s sleep. Thinking about it, makes me realise I’m going to miss calling her a baby, and I don’t think I am quite ready to accept that she will technically be termed a toddler in less than a month, but I’ll continue to cling tight to her tiny round clumsy limbs, and press my face against her beautiful soft round cheeks, because soon they will become framed cheekbones, and long and lean and able arms and feet. So I will hold onto these days as much as I can. For they fleet away from us much too fast. I will score them on my heart, and hope my older self remembers fondly of how glorious they were. And what an amazing blessing it was to raise her in this most fragile and vulnerable period of her life.
So, I sit here at the end of this post admitting to you that despite being 11 months in, I am still new to this whole motherhood thing. While I know for myself that I have gotten the hang of some of it, there is still a long road ahead and many years to walk through, and that children are always changing. But one thing is for sure, I love being Sienna’s mother. She may be altogether overwhelming, but she is also a total joy at the same time. And she may have endless (and I mean ENDLESS) bounds of energy that can literally consume me some days, however I am certain she is all worth it. I know you mammas out there know what I am talking about… I can’t quite explain it. And for those that aren’t mammas or pappas, I hope you have appreciated my story so far, regardless :) Thank you for taking the time to read, and follow me on this season of my life.
To end… I just want to share here again, exactly one part of what I wrote in my 0-3 months after birth post (link below) to encourage any mothers out there who are really feeling overwhelmed or finding it difficult to embrace their new role in life… that ‘this too shall pass‘.
I heard this phrase ALL the time when Sienna was first around. Back in those days, I will admit that it annoyed me to no end, because when you are desperate for time to pass and stuck in what seems and feels like an endless tunnel of when things will change with your baby, its hard to believe other mothers who say that IT WILL PASS. But sitting here at 11 months on, I know it to be true. A difficult, and a long truth to understand, but truth none the less. Which means there is hope. It means it only gets better. Yes ladies, it really does :) Trust it coming from a mother of a high needs baby! :)
So if you are finding it hard, tough, unbearable. Hang in there. You will eventually fall in love with your baby. Trust me you will. Don’t compare your journey with anyone else’s. Your babe will eventually learn how to eat. She will eventually learn how to sleep. In time she is even going to smile at you. And respond to your words. And before you know it, you will have a little human being in your lives that you just cannot bear to imagine life without. I promise you that you won’t even remember what your existence felt like before she came. It will be but a distant memory and you will think to yourself, the tears were worth it. It was all so very worth THIS.
For those of you who are wondering about the finer details of my journey with Sienna, which will talk more about the practical side of things like breastfeeding, skin care, weight loss, body image, and so on, you can read on further in the following links. I have taken the liberty to break it down into smaller sections for all of you, so that you wouldn’t have to read and scroll through an entire literary saga in this post. I’ve started by releasing the 0-3 month post, with the rest to be published shortly after (didn’t want to overwhelm you all with everything all in one go :P). Hopefully in between all these, I can write little journals or updates on current life with Sienna so you don’t always get furnished with a novel each time I blog ;)
Birth – 3 months (available for reading now)
3-6 months (to be published by the end of this weekend)
6-11 months (to be published sometime hopefully early next week)