My journey as a first-time mom
“Parenthood – It’s about guiding the next generation and forgiving the last.”
My daughter has so many clothes. For someone that has yet to take her first independent steps, she sure does get around with regards to fashion, with a wardrobe from every boutique, store and hand-me-down you could imagine. Gifts abundant from loving grandmothers. It’s been a doozy on my laundry routine.
You see, I didn’t think it would be like this. Any of it. Parenthood has changed me in so many ways, in the span of just under twelve months. And I’m still reeling and hurting and growing and curious, still yearning and fresh and experienced altogether. It’s been the best gift anyone could have given me. But it’s no cake walk. For any parent.
Life before my baby
My life before Lillian was go, go, go. I was a full-time Realtor with hunger of a young entrepreneur and enough experience under my belt to begin seeing returning clients. It was my pride to make an impact on others, to be at their side every step of the way – showings, inspections, closing day, physically there. I averaged 18,000 miles per year on my car meeting the needs of clients, attending seminars and conferences and showing properties.
About a month before Lillian was due to arrive, I began to tap the brakes on my jetsetting ways and focus on the task ahead of bringing her into the world. We readied the house. We bought things in bulk. We read the books. We had so many plans – a natural, unmedicated birth at home, to greet our baby boy or girl (we chose to not find out the sex during pregnancy) with a midwife. But of course, she had her own plans and I found myself hooked up to IVs and an epidural needle, laying supine at Baylor of Dallas. But there she was.
The first few months
Those first two or three months are such a fog to me now, as I endured the throws of learning to breastfeed (nobody really taught me), navigated my way through a number of real estate listings and Buyer needs while physically healing, and began to really assess myself and my value while watching my daughter squirm and nap throughout the days. Postpartum depression hit me, and hit me hard. I struggled with my identity as a woman, now Mom. I hated having to stay at home, indoors all day, but wanted so desperately to be everything and more to my baby girl. I resented my husband for leaving, whether out of town or to the post office, near or far. For the first time, I really reconsidered what my own Mother may have experienced.
It’s funny how your parents are miraculous supreme beings in your youth. And then one day you realize that they are human, too.
Eventually, the baby blues lifted and I began to feel like myself again. My daughter began to show a glint of personality and I became entranced with her development. But my husband and I were navigating this new norm – with a baby that hated car rides, a household income that was being stretched and the neglect that man and woman can feel when there is a breastfeeding baby playing referee. Our intimacy was shot, and at times we wondered if our ‘spark’ was lost forever.
How motherhood has changed me
In all of these things, the good and the bad, I began to see other women in a different light. To reach out to strangers without inhibitions. I felt the plight of the great juggle that so many of us go through – to raise children as if we were stay-at-home moms while providing for the family like a full-time wage earner. And maybe some of it was a pressure that I placed upon myself, but I had survived this chapter of darkness and my optimism had been restored.
I wanted to let the woman in the grocery store with a toddler melting down in aisle 3, that it’s okay. Or the mother with an infant in the restaurant trying to breastfeed in public without the attention of onlookers for the first time, that she will be just fine.
To my mother who tasted motherhood herself at the same age, in a time without the internet as a sounding board and the ability to text her fears or concerns to a friend in the wee hours of the night – that I felt her and I thanked her and I love her for everything she did.
The days are so long, but the months (and years) fly by. And all of the sage wisdom and advice that has been passed to me will be shared again. And again and again. This parenthood journey is so inspiring, and a chaotic, messy and overtired joy to experience. But we are all human.
My husband and I are back on track and laughing again, allowing eachother grace. We enjoy our part in raising our daughter, together, alongside one another. And my daughter is such a little ham these days. She is soaking up the sights, the sounds, and every glimmer of life this world has to offer her – and I hope that my optimism will be hers one day.
There aren’t enough words to describe the effort that parenthood has demanded. Fewer yet to describe the feelings of overwhelming love a tiny human can bring. It is my journey.
~ Ashley Sharum
Celebrating Motherhood is a space on Deexterous where real moms can share real stories. Drop a note if you would like to share your story.