I don’t even know where to start.
I don’t know how to find the language to articulate the profound, irrevocable change that motherhood has rendered within me.
I’m stunned by the beauty of it: the love I have for this child. I want to devour him. I want to wrap myself in his impossibly long eyelashes, pressed up against his round, soft cheeks.
Nothing could have prepared me for the debilitating lows or gut-busting highs of becoming a mother. I couldn’t have predicted or planned it. I couldn’t have anticipated the miracle that occurs when a piece of your soul lives outside of your body.
Yet the last seven months have been the most difficult of my life.
I’ve been stretched and challenged and changed in uncomfortable ways. I’ve shattered into hundreds of pieces and put myself back together. I’ve subsisted on meager amounts of sleep and adult conversation while still feeding, cleaning, and caring for a helpless creature. This is what it truly means to be needed. His entire existence hinges on my waking, my body, my caress.
There’s something so carnal about this need. It’s all that really matters.
For the first few months we were just surviving. Learning about each other. Finding moments of joy amidst the terror, the fatigue of being a new parent. It was a season of gravity and clarity. My heart felt heavy with love.
There were times I struggled. I faltered. I curled into a ball and wept. But the sun rose each morning on his sweet skin and I couldn’t remember a time before he existed.
And it got easier. When the meals ran out and the visitors faded, I faced motherhood on my own feet. With each day, I gained confidence; I got to know my child. I learned the curve of his face, the tenor of his cry, the warmth of his little body against mine. As the spring days stretched into summer, I slowly re-entered the world.
It didn’t stop turning, you see.
My small, carnal existence had isolated me. Motherhood caused me to skip a beat. It was blessed, needed time, but the world had gone on without me. So I reintroduced myself to church, to friends, to the grocery store. I was like an ostrich lifting my head from the sand.
But nothing would ever be the same. There was no returning to “normal” because normal was new and shifting.
And it was ok. The beauty of our new normal outweighed the frustration. My child grew and changed and explored like I had forgotten how to do.
Now, he’s being shaped before my eyes. Each new day brings a new discovery, a new skill, a new item to chew on.
My heart bubbles up to my throat when he sneezes, smiles, laughs. Suddenly his bright eyes render recognition, delight. His chubby hands reach out with intention.
There’s just something about watching a life being formed. I love him so deeply my breath catches in my chest.
It’s worth falling off the face of the earth, if only for a little while. I’m still moving slowly. I’m still learning to accept failure, to accept advice. I’m still paralyzed when a social obligation interferes with bedtime. I’m still figuring out how to be a mother and also be a person.
I can barely remember to wear two socks in the morning, much less to write. But it’s so important. It’s necessary to capture this holy, exceptional time.
Because I want to remember.
I want to remember his spindly, alien-like limbs when he was just a few weeks old. I want to remember the sweet, clean smell of baby lotion and powder after his bath. I want to remember the waves of grief that rolled over me the first morning I went back to work and had to leave him. I want to remember swaddling and shushing. I want to remember the unbridled joy that washes over his face every time I walk into a room. I want to remember the twinge in my heart when Dairy Man reads bedtime stories to his son. I want to remember how everything changed when I became a mother.
So forgive my sentimentality, excessive use of adjectives, lack of blogging, and baby spam on Facebook, but I’m still figuring out how to be his mom and also be myself.
It’s not easy, but I wouldn’t change a moment. Life is just too good.
25 thoughts on “When I Became a Mother”
What a beautiful post!!! I have a seven week old and am working on the mom vs person idea too! I told my husband today would be the day I took a shower AND left the house with the baby to run errands! By run I literally ran through Target as his eyes opened, thinking to myself “please don’t cry please don’t cry”. Target and a shower, today was a success! Love reading your blog… You have an amazing way with words!
Thanks, Tracy! Also. A shower AND a trip to Target in one day? You are a rock star.
Jessica, so good to hear from you, I have been wondering how it was all going! Working full time with a baby is exhausting so don’t be hard on yourself. I had the luxury of being able to stay home the first year. As for figuring out how to be you, well that changes too and it comes in tiny moments of time stolen from your job, your mothering and your partner. A walk alone, a cup of coffee alone. Don’t bank on a chunk of time until he’s three. Enjoy it all. It goes by so fast. Cheers, Fiona whose baby is 16 on exchange in France at the moment , oh and I have some time😉
Thanks for your gracious words, Fiona. It feels like a lot, but I know every mother goes through similar things! I’m sure that all seasons will be beautiful in their own right. 🙂
What a beautiful post and one that will be added to his and your scrapbook of life. It’s why I love to blog!!! In just a year and half I’ve looked back at some of my first posts and smile when I remember that day, that moment, that picture. It’s awesome!!!
You have a beautiful son and he loves his mommie!!
Thanks, Country Girl! And I agree – writing is such an awesome way to remember these moments in time.
I just found your blog and this is a beautiful post–it absolutely articulates motherhood in all of its mess and glory. I so look forward to following you and getting to know you better! 🙂
“Mess and glory.” Aptly stated. Thanks for your note, Marla!
“I couldn’t have anticipated the miracle that occurs when a piece of your soul lives outside of your body.”
In this stunning reflection, you have managed to both elevate motherhood and celebrate personal growth. This piece embraces all that is worthwhile about living and giving. Well done, my friend. Well done. N
This stunning review is highest praise, Nancy. I so value your input and feedback. Hugs.
What a beautiful piece on Motherhood, Jessica!! Brings back some wonderful memories…..
Thanks, Holly. I know I don’t have to tell you this, but it’s crazy how quickly it already goes!
Describe what you feel as a mother … that is to reflect one of the many gifts that God gave us, as the most beautiful and mysterious force that is felt in the heart. Never forget that a child is one of the most precious gifts that God gives us… I congratulate you for expressing what you have on your son..Always remember to put in the hands of God everything that has to do with the child and in the road of life always really everything you do will be supported by the GOD… excuse me for writing English Regular…
Beautiful words. Thanks, Carlos.
Jessica, what a beautiful post. You have articulated emotions and experiences into poetic words! All the best as you continue to grow as a mother while he grows into himself 🙂
“Brain reprogrammed by baby, brb.” 😀