March 4, 2013

Back Up

playdate and lunch at the museum of fine arts

I've been shouldering such crazy guilt this winter, feeling foggy and not being able to engage Little Smith in the way that he deserves has honestly been very painful. In the last two years, I made the choice to shift much of my day to day focus towards being a stay at home mother and away from architecture. I am still working in my field, but I'm investing a teeny tiny fraction of the time and dedication that I did before motherhood. It's a decision that has surprised so many of my friends and family, yet I have been completely fulfilled and certain in this path. 

It makes me cringe when I hear those parents who are so saccharine about having kids and go on about how 'amazing' their child is. The reality is that motherhood can be brutal, and my child is far from perfect. Somehow for me though, all the crazy moments and sleep deprivation and frustration doesn't tarnish my pride in the work I'm doing. It's not for everyone, but this is the right place for me right now.

It's rare for me to have this kind of confidence in any life decision; I'm a worrier, a second guesser, and a merciless critic. It was refreshing, a surprise even to myself... and then I got knocked down with feeling sick. Sick isn't even the right word, and really only those of you you have had the pleasure of being pregnant and the misfortune of experiencing true 'morning sickness' can appreciate the strange fog of nausea, lethargy, and general misery that was my winter. I just couldn't pull it together to plan activities, participate in play dates, visit parks. What's worse, I often couldn't even happily play with my little boy or prepare good food the way that I wanted. 

Suddenly I was failing at the one role that had given me such pride and confidence, and it hurt. I couldn't actively acknowledge the hurt in the moment, because I needed every ounce of energy to get through each day and give what I could to my child. I put one foot in front of the other, but my whole identity felt fragile and it was a very confusing time. 

It's awkward to write about this, I know in many ways it's self involved and melodramatic. I am so grateful that I am pregnant, that I am healthy and this new baby is healthy . I am supremely lucky. This wasn't the end of the universe, my little boy survived and of course there will be so many more challenges to face once a new little person joins our family. But this was the reality of my experience, and it left me with a greater appreciation and a big dose of humility for my role as a mother. 

And now I am better. Seemingly overnight, but I think I actually gradually came back to life throughout February. We're catching up with friends, saying 'yes' to get together's and trips, doing projects, and just enjoying our time together. I've snapped very few pictures and spent little time in front of the computer. I'll get back to it all, it's important to me... but right now I'm enamored with being completely present in each moment with my little boy. He made his first mixed media sculpture during our visit to the museum today.


He calls it 'Bird'. He refused to follow any of the instructions or use most of the suggested materials. I'm so proud of him, he's a monster and he is also just 'amazing'.

21 comments:

  1. This is a really beautiful post and a lot of it resonates with me. I too am a worrier and yet am doing everything I can to not return to full time work.
    Bettina
    www.littleoldsouls.com

    ReplyDelete
  2. I can't imagine what that type of morning sickness would feel like - but it sounds absolutely awful. Good for you to get through it the best way you could. Hopefully the rest of the pregnancy goes well:)

    ReplyDelete
  3. The best thing is that Little Smith has not once probably thought of holding that time against you. They are so satisfied with love and cuddles and togetherness, all of which I'm sure he didn't miss out on. You did what you needed to do to take good care of yourself and the baby, and for that you are a fantastic mama. Lots of love to you. x, Katie

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know you're right Katie, well said- thank you!

      Delete
  4. Glad to hear that you're feeling better! Love the little "bird" ;)

    ReplyDelete
  5. your post talks to a lot of mothers and i'm one of those for sure! being pregnant, with a toddler, morning sickness and feeling always tired is horrible and i know what you mean when talking about failing in your main roles: mother and wife. but then comes the second trimester and things start to go better... and you can enjoy again your little artist!

    ReplyDelete
  6. I stayed home with my kiddos until they were school age and I wouldn't trade that time for the world. Even now I make sure my schedule has me home right after they get home from school! Never feel badly about engaging in a little self analysis (way different than self involvement...and lets face it, motherhood really is a melodrama half the time!)-- your caring enough to think about it is what makes you such a wonderful mom!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I like reframing it as self analysis :) And I'm glad I'm not the only one who often feels motherhood is a melodrama - who knew?!

      Delete
  7. I think you are very brave in writing this. It really resonates with me, too. So much of motherhood is guilt-ridden these days, and what's interesting is that I don't think our mothers felt this kind of guilt. I think it has come from society, especially the competitive side of women against other women that has become so strong over the past 10 years, mostly. I have such fond memories of childhood, but most of the memories involve my siblings, not my mother. And I am intensely close to her! It's just that she was busy doing all the things it took to care for us- I don't remember her actually playing with us all that much.

    As someone who grew up with siblings, I can assure you that all the stress of this pregnancy and feeling miserable from the sickness will be erased once you see W really interacting and playing with his younger sibling. It is seriously magical, and still brings tears to my eyes. You are giving him the BEST gift. Hugs to you, and so glad to hear you are feeling better, friend!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Lauren, I know that's all very true and that the joys of a sibling will be worth it in the long run. Having not grown up with any siblings I'm really excited to watch that bond grow. W will be fine and it's just a tiny blip for him anyway, I think the big struggle for me was that I had spent these two years feeling so certain that all this 'stuff' I was doing as a parent mattered- so if I can't do it and it's no big deal... then is there a value to my work? I'm feeling more clear headed now and of course I do still see the value, but sometimes this brain of mine can tie me up in knots :)

      Delete
  8. Love the 'bird'. Glad things are looking up for you!

    ReplyDelete
  9. I think we are about a thousand times harder on ourselves than our kids will ever be. I doubt your beautiful little boy has even noticed that you are less engaged with him. A little break from all the extras won't even come close to hurting him, and the sibling he'll get will be his life long companion. I couldn't be more grateful for my siblings and I love nothing more than watching my little people become each others best friends. Glad you're feeling better.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I know exactly where you're coming from. My daughter was just turning 2 when I was pregnant with my son. I had a terrible pregnancy with "morning sickness" and anemia the entire 9 months. I could not engage in anything, let alone pick her up and give her the affection she still so badly needed at her age. I couldnt even walk anymore after 6 months along. I felt awful. Guilty. Sad. I could see her bonding more with her dad, who was filling in for me. The one thing that would pull me out of my funk during this time was the realization that the suffering of pregnancy (both hers and mine) would be worth it a thousand times over. After all, we were suffering for merely 9 months, but we would be rewarded with a brother/son that would bring us joy through the course of our lives. Hang in there!

    Samm
    www.ciunibaby.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow Samm, that sounds like such a challenge and certainly puts my measly three months into perspective. I'm so glad you were able to get through it and keep the end goal in focus. It's amazing what we can do when we set a goal! Thank you for sharing your story.

      Delete
  11. I think all mothers can relate to this, more or less. :-)

    ReplyDelete
  12. I agree with what Lauren said above. I am so fond of my own mother but I don't have so many memories of her playing with me or my sister directly. The culture of the world today is so different than in years past. I know nothing of having a toddler, and I gush about my child all of the time... but she hasn't hit any serious growing milestones. I know at some point I will relate to this in a new way.

    I doubt that at any point in the future your son will look back on a time or look back on a memory and think to himself that it wasn't "enough" that you weren't doing it "right"... I think he will look back on his childhood and life (someday) and think to himself how amazing you were for giving up so much for him. So many mothers today can't even afford the opportunity to stay at home with their children.... the blessing you have is so special.

    It will get better (maybe not before it gets harder) but it's so worth it. And your son will be appreciative of that, even if it is later in life.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, and I really do feel so lucky and grateful for the opportunity to stay home... like I said, it does feel embarrassingly self involved to air out these thoughts, but for me it was an important little piece of my experience this year and I wanted to acknowlege it. You have so many exciting milestones right around the corner! Those are fun times.

      Delete
  13. Oh Lilly, I totally get it. That first trimester is honestly just brutal. For me, it's always been a matter of survival those first three months. Just getting through every day was my only achievement. It's just crazy how utterly exhausting it is, and how demotivating and crippling that nausea can be. All we can do is to keep reminding ourselves that we're growing a baby, and that is a HUGE deal.
    Love to you and your family!
    Ronnie xo

    ReplyDelete
  14. this brought me to tears. as a mummy of 3 one with a rare syndrome that means she self-harms and doesn't sleep (yes we have not 1 but 2 padded rooms in our house!) i know just how brutal motherhood can be, but also i recognise your love for it in this post as well! It's the biggest roller-coaster you will ever ride! ok really crying now, your honesty and love has touched me xxxx

    ReplyDelete
  15. While I certainly can't relate to the morning sickness (which sounds absolutely horrible you poor thing) I can certainly relate to the feeling that I don't feel like I have enough of what it takes to care for the children I have - i.e. patience, energy, etc.

    Things got a lot better around 16 weeks but it has been more of a struggle than I anticipated. It's been a good lesson in trying to be kind to myself and to listen to my heart and body.

    You'll be okay! :)

    xo
    cortnie

    ReplyDelete
  16. Thank you so much for writing this, Lilly. This really resonates with me as I was so ill during my pregnancy. The idea of making a meal (one of my favorite things to do) was completely out of the question. I honestly can't imagine experiencing that kind of groggy, nausea with a child and I think women that get through it are total badasses. BADASSES. My heart goes out to you, mama. That's rough, for sure, but you are such a thoughtful and attentive mother there's no doubt that W is doing great.

    ReplyDelete