“Have a baby,” they said. “You won’t have to give up your career, your hobbies, or your friendships,” they said. “Haven’t you heard? Women can have it all.”
However you enter motherhood, you simply cannot appreciate what it takes to be a mom until it happens to you. I think Addison was probably about 2 weeks old when I looked into my own mother’s eyes and said to her, “I can’t believe you did all this for ME!” Being a mom helps you appreciate women and mothers everywhere in a whole new way.
Sorry dudes, though you can sympathize, you will never be able to fully empathize. The physical sacrifices, the emotional commitment, the burden of society’s expectations. It’s a heavy mantle to carry. And yet many of us walk this path with grace and dignity–despite the fact that women typically feel neither graceful nor dignified throughout the process.
Michelle Wolf put it perfectly in her HBO special, Not a Nice Lady:
It’s like, “Oh, congratulations, you’re having a baby? Great. Couple things… We’re gonna need you to get that car accident of a body back to work as soon as possible, because this is America and we don’t think you need time to recover. Also, you should breastfeed. It’s what’s best for the baby. But don’t do it in public, you pig. Do it in the old janitor’s closet underneath the bridge with the rest of the breastfeeding trolls. And don’t ask to take time off from work when your kids are sick. We’ll think you’re not dedicated. Also, why are you such a bad mom? By the way, your salary is just enough to cover the cost of childcare. And we know you’re exhausted and you don’t really know who you are anymore, and you’re trying to balance your old life and your new life, but, quick, go have sex with your husband! He’s about to leave! He doesn’t understand what you’re going through! Quick, go now! And, sweetie, smile!”
Carole and I sat down for our weekly Wine Shoppe date, and we had a vent session. We hashed out the incredible task we have in front of us, both of us trying to raise our girls to be well-rounded, kind, thoughtful, confident, critical-thinking human beings and sometimes our goals just feel too big and too hard. And if someone asks us to smile ONE MORE TIME…
Not every day feels overwhelming. Not every day feels hard. The journey is paved with beautiful, tiny moments and earth-shattering milestones. Carole shares her reflections on motherhood below:
Over the past year I found myself every night reading “Goodnight Moon” in the rocking chair thinking “It feels like not long ago, I was on the other end of this!” The days seemed so long at times, and then, by the end of the week, It’s hard to believe how fast it all passes. She outgrew clothes over night, grew longer by the days. Next thing I knew she was exploring and getting to know the world she lives in. I’m clinging to my memories of those first days with her, as sleepy-eyed parents just trying to care for this being. She was highly anticipated, but once she finally arrived, she felt like a stranger to us. I remember laying in the recovery room the first night and hearing her breathe, looking at her as she was bundled up in her bassinet. Despite having grown her inside of me, feeling her move and kick for 9 months, she still felt so new.
The first year of her life felt incredibly hard, yet beautiful and rewarding. I went back to work after 12 weeks of maternity leave. I continued to breast feed and pump while at work. I pushed through so many supply dips to keep up with her demand. On top of balancing work life, I still to this very day have not had a full night of sleep (hint: it’s a GOOD night when I’m only woken up 5 times, I’ve survived year and 2 weeks of this!)
I’ve never been more exhausted in my life than I am now. Immediately after delivery I understood how badass women are. I managed a medication free, 7 hour crazy fast labor. Followed by a year of losing more sleep than ever, and figuring out how to be a mom and keep a baby loved, fed, and safe. Plus the career thing. Plus cooking and house work and other life chores. Also remember friends? Let’s maintain a social life too. Goodness. I can’t say I know much because I really don’t. But man, moms are so heroic. Whatever motherhood has looked like for you, remember that you’ve brought a beautiful human earth-side and are raising them to be (hopefully) not serial killers, but to be kind and good to those around them. Here’s to moms, we are a bunch of badass goddesses.