I remember when I first came home from the hospital with our daughter. Like lots of first-time moms, I had read the books, envisioned what motherhood might be like, and thought about it constantly. And, like lots of first-time moms, I quickly realized nothing I had done or read could truly prepare me for what was to come, especially in the foggy, painful, sleep-deprived early days. I remember thinking:
All of this, just to get her to go to sleep? Rocking, swaying, coaxing … I am exhausted and wonder if she’ll ever let me sleep again.
All of this, just to breastfeed her? I always thought it would be so easy, and never imagined something so natural could be so painful, so emotionally and physically taxing.
All of this, just to change her? Sure, I anticipated the diapers, but this many times per day? In the dark, in the middle of the night, the two of us sleep-deprived, trying to quickly maneuver a diaper around her tiny, squirming body?
All of this, just to get out of the house? Diaper bag packed with diapers, wipes, fresh change of clothes, and by the time I actually ready myself and get out the door, it’s time to turn right back around and start the process all over again.
All of this, just to get her to nap? So I can stare at a giant to-do list before zoning out and accomplishing nothing before she wakes up and needs me again?
All of this, just to feed her solids? Preparing and introducing foods, teaching her how to eat, washing the dishes, only to start the whole process all over again and have my kitchen look like not a damn thing has been changed or cleaned, when in reality, it all went full-cycle ten times?
All of this, my body must go through, to recover from carrying her? Those last few weeks of pregnancy in particular, when I was desperate for her to turn from her breech position, then the inevitable C-section and healing process?
All of this, to readjust my life, which is now centered upon the needs of this tiny little human?
All of this, just to squeeze out an hour or two of time for myself? Pumped bottles, instructions, lists, rushing around, only to have her on my mind the entire time I’m away, never truly able to ‘unplug’ from my new role?
And then, somewhere as the days went on, and our two little souls became more acquainted, and my body repaired itself, we settled into each other. And woven in between all of this, I also found myself thinking:
This is all I have to do, to take care of her all day and have her rest her tiny head on my shoulder before I put her down for the night?
This is all I have to do, to get her to laugh at the smallest of things?
This is all I have to do, to watch her face light up when I show her an orange slice or piece of mozzarella, and to watch her learn how to feed herself?
This is all I have to do, to shift my priorities to fit into this new life we’ve created?
This is all I need to plan, to enjoy a nice Saturday, more peaceful than the jam-packed days of running around I used to do?
This is all I have to sacrifice, to have my heart be so full of love that I think it may burst?
Yes, I’ve quickly learned that being a mom takes all of this – and yet, this is all.