As we celebrate our son's 2nd birthday this month, I am beyond grateful for the great gift and experiences over the last two years. I want to take the time to reflect on my journey and the lessons I have learned. My life has changed a lot since "Mother" was added to my identity.
In this blog post, I will share the pivotal experiences of my motherhood journey in year two. If you would like to see how I felt after my first year of motherhood, see my reflections here.
#1: Experiencing changes after our son turned one
Motherhood has been one of the most immersive journeys in my life. It demands a lot from you mentally and physically. I don't know what it was, but my brain seemed to regain capacity when our son crossed the 12-month mark. I felt like I didn't have to think about his every need as much as I did in the first months.
#2: Trusting another person to care for our son
For the first 14 months of our son's life, my husband and I cared for him on our own while we both worked full-time. I don't know how we did it. We know that it was the safest solution as infection levels were still high where we live. At the beginning of this year, I looked at the goals I wanted to accomplish professionally and knew we needed some help. We are fortunate to be able to have a nanny that comes to our home for a few hours a week. It allowed me to focus on work and know he was well cared for. This was one of the best decisions I made this year.
#3: Integrating Work and Motherhood
Typically we hear about work-life balance. That assumes that we can hold a balance between work and life. I had to learn to work towards integration and not seek balance. It took me a while to accept that there will always be one aspect of my life that demands more of my attention, and I'll need to be agile. I am now ok with the fact that I can flex how I spend my time and thrive.
#4: Learning to prioritize my wellbeing and goals
There are so many different aspects of my life that I wanted to continue prioritizing even though my life has changed a lot in the last two years. I am very happy that I can continue writing my weekly blog posts, even with being a mother. Another aspect that I prioritized was growing my career, and I am very happy that I did that. One area where I am still learning and need to do better is taking care of myself.
#5: Dealing with "Mum guilt"
There is so much pressure to be a perfect mother. I keep asking myself what that actually means. Especially in an age where we get to see aspects of people's lives on social media, it can feel very intimidating when you see mothers that look like they are doing everything so effortlessly. I accepted that I am the best mother for AC. As a working mother, there are things that I need to do differently, given the time that I have available to me. I stopped feeling bad that I could spend a finite amount of time with him during the week and that I could not do all the fun activities with him. The truth is that he is having fun and developing beautifully. The pressure that I was putting myself under was totally unnecessary.
#6: Introducing our son to our family
Due to the pandemic, we had to wait for 20 months after he was born until we could travel to see our family. Words cannot describe the feeling I had when our son finally got to meet our family. We traveled from the US to the UK and spent three whole weeks with different family members. Hearing our son now call the names of our family members when he sees their pictures is very special.
#7: Learning about what a good Father looks like
Watching my husband be a great father taught me what Fatherhood means. I did not grow up with a father, so this experience has been very new. Seeing our son interact with his dad and soak up all the love warms my heart up. I feel very fortunate to have a partner who is very involved in raising our son.
#8: Finding support from the Mothers around me
There is something special about being about to share stories, get ideas, and be supported by the other mothers in my community. I have had the opportunity to learn so much and share with others. It helps to know that others are experiencing similar things and that we are all on our own learning journeys.
#9: Watching our son develop his passion for music
As a parent, a lot of people ask you what your child is passionate about. For the longest time, we were not sure what it was, and then we noticed him enjoying music. He started dancing every time music came on. Months went by, and my husband noticed that our son enjoyed watching people playing the saxophone. As a great father, he got our son his first toy saxophone. Our little boy has memorized all the moves and plays with his saxophone for hours every day. It is amazing to see him love music so much, and I'm looking forward to seeing how his passion develops.
#10: Growing my capacity to love every day
When people tell you that you discover a new type of love when you become a parent, they are absolutely correct. No matter what challenges we face as we navigate the complex journey of raising a child in America, we would not have it any other way. Every single day, we are filled with love for our son.
Being a mother has definitely made me better in my personal and professional life. The most significant change is that I have gotten more empathy for people. I have always been a compasionate person. However, I now have empathy for people even when I don't totally understand their backgrounds and experiences. I judged people more and now find myself thinking, let everyone live their lives.