At the beginning, right after Lily was born, I was in survival mode. I knew we’d be in survival mode but I hadn’t anticipated the duration of it. Before having Lily, I had all these expectations of what parenthood would be like. I soon learned that some were quite unrealistic and I had to level with myself.
Before maternity leave, I thought I was going to have so much spare time while Lily was napping, but that proved to be wrong because she was a terrible napper. I then thought that Lily and I could attend classes, but that proved to be wrong as well because she had no schedule and napped whenever she wished and the length varied. Yes, sometimes I do feel bored but it’s usually because Lily is napping longer than expected.
I thought I was going to be the “do-it-all-and-have-it-together” mom but that’s not me and it wouldn’t have been the right fit for Lily either. Neither can I be the mom that has my child on a regular routine. Truth is, as soon as I settle into a routine it changes because Lily is constantly growing and hitting developmental milestones. What I’ve come to realize is that I don’t have to be a “perfect” mom to be a good mom for Lily. I’ve also learned that Lily is unpredictable and can’t follow a rigid schedule and that’s ok. I have to make some sacrifices because I want Lily to sleep well so that she can continue to be healthy and grow. And that’s ok.
I felt like I lost myself after having Lily. I was no longer teaching, no longer going out with friends, or doing anything that I used to do on a regular basis. My entire life revolved around Lily and taking care of her. Looking back today, I realize that I didn’t lose myself. Rather, I was adapting, changing, evolving, whichever word you want to use to describe the process of becoming a mother. Usually when you makes changes in life, it’s a gradual process; not this one. It has been an all-encompassing experience with a very steep learning curve. Some days I hate it, but most days I love it. The old me, pre-baby, would think that I’m wasting time during my mat leave because I didn’t start a side business or project. But the new me says that it is ok because the point of mat leave isn’t to start a business but to give me time to learn to care for my baby.
Caring for Lily is my top priority and everything else comes second. My mat leave hasn’t turned out how I expected it to be, but I wouldn’t change it. I learned so much about taking care of Lily as well as myself as a person. I learned to handle stressful situations under very little sleep, I learned to value my friendships, and I learned how to better communicate with my husband so that we can better parent as a team.
Things aren’t going exactly as expected, but I love every moment of it.