I celebrated my first Mother’s Day a few of weeks ago. Last year on Mother’s Day I was getting up to teach a spin class for a friend, and I remember Chad saying to me, “If you were a mom you would get special treats today, but you’re not!” It was his teasing way of trying to get me to soften to the idea of having kids. If you would have told me last year that the next Mother’s Day I would have had a baby I would have called you crazy. What a difference a year can make.
I have always celebrated my mom and grandmother’s and aunts on Mother’s Day, but I never fully understood the meaning until I became a mom myself. Being pregnant is a process and giving birth itself is hard work and painful, so we should all appreciate the woman who went through this to bring us earthside. We all have a mother or we wouldn’t be here, and no matter what your relationship is with your mother later in life, to know that someone gave you life is the greatest gift of all.
Chad made sure he did everything possible to give me a wonderful first Mother’s Day. There was breakfast in bed, we lunched, walked around Denver. We spent the day together as a family, which is what I wanted most. I received sweet texts and facebook messages from my friends wishing me a Happy Mother’s Day, and this meant the world to me. For someone else to recognize your hard work and dedication in being a mother is refreshing. I spend most of my days like I’m sure most moms do beating myself up thinking I could do better. When I put Charlotte to bed at night part of me is sad knowing that’s a day I can never get back. I curse myself for having negative thoughts when we have a bad day and nothing I do seems to make her happy. The loss of sleep will do crazy things to your mental health.
Being a mom is hard, there is no doubt about that. However, I know this was my intended path. My relationship with MY mom and sister is better for having Charlotte. I now know my own birth story from my mom’s point of view, something I never even cared to ask about before. My sister and I have someone in common now that is bigger than us and our egos. The other day she sent me a gift for Charlotte and included dry shampoo in there. Dry shampoo because she knows how hard it is to fit a daily hair washing in. That is love.
My relationships with other women who are moms are better. I can now relate on a level that I never could before. The other day after bootcamp I was sitting in the park with Charlotte and two women stopped by to ask how old she was. One of the women was pregnant and two weeks from her due date. We ended up talking about midwives and primrose treatments and natural births. She was an athlete like me, and at the end of our conversation, thanked me for sharing my positive birth experience. “All you hear is the negative,” she said. “And it doesn’t help. I’m just glad to know there are positive stories like yours out there.”
It’s true, and I’m just as guilty as anyone – there is a lot of negative out there. Motherhood is not all sunshine and rainbows and unicorns. There are days when Charlotte has puked in my bra while nursing and blown out her diaper in the car seat. There are days when Charlotte is crying so hard her face turns red at the store, and I’m sweating I’m so flustered, and I just want to drop my items and run out screaming – especially when I hear a teenage boy mutter as he walks by, “shut that fucking baby up.” There are days when all I want to do is sleep in, and I hear her crying at 5AM, and I just wish I could turn it off.
Then Charlotte will smile.
Because in between the horrible are moments of wonderful. Like when Charlotte looks at me with those big blue eyes while she is nursing like I’m the best thing in the world. The days when Charlotte is content to sleep on my chest and snuggle. The times when I walk around the house with her, and she has her tiny fist tucked under her chin and stares at everything. The afternoons when she comes with me to lunch with a friend, bootcamp and then my hair appointment and never makes more than a whimper in protest.
I look at Charlotte and know she is the best part of me. She is the pure parts, the wonderful, the innocent, the love I have inside, the selfless. Charlotte is my greatest achievement in life and my legacy. She will be the piece of me that lives on and carries my story after I die. She is the hardest and best part of my day every day.
I know I am only 6 weeks in to being a mom, which is not a lot of time to have passed, but I am already so humbled and in awe of all the moms out there. I do not even feel qualified to join the ranks of all the wonderful women around me and before me. Every day I am learning and trying to do better and hoping it is enough. I have finally come to realize that being a mom is just about unselfish love and in life love is the only thing that matters. At the end of the day love is all we have.
I was out with Charlotte the other day at a yoga store and was given some great advice by the woman working there. She told me not to wish your children’s lives away, to enjoy every day no matter how hard. This advice has changed how I approach my days. When I look at Charlotte now, no matter how rough the day has been, I do not wish for it to end.
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About the Author: Natalie Magee writes a regular column for Happiness Series about what motherhood and beyond - from prenatal to postpartum. Her intention with her column, "Baby & Beyond - What No One Else Will Tell You" is to give practical advice and tips to the busy mom and mom-to-be. She also shares her experiences good, bad and ugly as a woman, wife, mom, flight attendant and fitness instructor. Natalie is also a regular fitness contributor on Happiness Series. She will continue to create great, effective workouts for anyone - including the busy moms out there - who wants to get fit and stay in shape.