I’m the first to admit that motherhood isn’t easy. If you’ve followed our journey on social media for a while or you know me in real life then you know that it hasn’t been all sleepy newborn snuggles and sweet toddler affection over here. The addition of a child is an adjustment for everyone and we all have our own struggles but for me the difficulty felt so deeply ingrained in my emotional wellbeing and went overlooked for so long (who has the time!?) that it eventually became a part of me and my mothering worldview. Resentment, anger, and frustration became my norm. I was grateful but I wasn’t deep down in my core grateful. I didn’t feel like I really knew the meaning of the word, actually. Maybe somewhere amidst the colic, the medical diagnosis, the always-looming questions about Hen’s health and the complete shitshow that is raising back-to-back babies while moving to a new house in a completely new place (phew!) I got bogged down by my feelings of discontent.
It’s no surprise that those feelings started to colour my perception of motherhood. I was holding on to so much trauma that there was no room left for me to notice the characteristics that made my two kids unique and wonderful in my everyday present reality. Defining myself by how my journey had begun left no room for me to create new, freer versions of myself. Even though I was renovating my dream house with the love of my life in a new community that we loved with our two gorgeous babies I still had niggling feelings of discontent and even unhappiness. I was stealing joy right out from under myself and I felt so much shame because I knew I was doing it but couldn’t figure out how to set myself on a different course.
The biggest difference between first-time and second-time motherhood for me was always foresight. In the thick of the sleeplessness and colic and medical-mama-drama of that first year of motherhood I truly felt that I had no lifeline, that there was no end in sight. That first year felt eternal and my husband and I still agree that there were not many good moments in it but it ended. Colic sloooowly subsided, Hen slowly became more manageable, we slowly got a handle on her diagnosis. Bad days come, but if we’re lucky they also end.
The thing is, the second time around you have that hopeful knowledge to cling to and it helps with the teething and the sleep regressions and the rest but you quickly realize that it applies to the good stuff as well. The phase when your newborn blissfully passes out on your shoulder despite the low rumble of background noise at a party? That ends way too quickly. The phase when they need you to kiss their bumps and bruises ends, too. The phase when they need help getting their own snacks. The phase when they crawl into your bed at 4am and fall asleep, sweaty and content, in the crook of your body ends. There will come a point when they’ll solve their own problems, do their own homework, a time when they have so much going on in their own life that they won’t even remember to call. All the good stuff ends.
Unfortunately it took this constant, painful, roundabout realization of the finite nature of childhood for me to start practicing true gratitude for what I had. In order to remind myself about what I had learned I drilled the phrase “it’s just a phase” into my head and repeated it as necessary (luckily it applies to everything from toddler tantrums to weather systems). When you’re tired of the long, dark, cold days of winter you know that the spring will inevitably arrive and when you’re tired of applying endless layers of sunscreen to your sticky, sweaty kids you know to soak up those summer days because the autumn is coming, too. Of course none of this means that you have to love every minute of motherhood (I ain’t about that vibe!) but take it from a constantly rehabilitating complainer: seeing the silver lining makes it a whole lot more sweet.