Messiness of Motherhood: The First-Year-Mom

12.12.2016 |

Being a mom is hard work. (Should I type that again, because let's be real.....being a mom is the hardest thing we've done up to this point in our lives!)  As a first-year-mom myself, I think we go into motherhood with all of these expectations and desires, but quickly get a dose of reality when our sweet babies don't sleep through the night when we thought they would, or don't like being rocked to sleep when that is the number one thing you were looking forward too (or maybe that was just me, either way.)  Motherhood is a complicated web of ups and downs, goods and bads, rights and wrongs.  It requires a level head and a open heart.  

I have asked a few moms who are in the midst of mothering their first child within the first year to answer a few questions regarding their own personal experiences.  As a mom, I can feel the hurt and pain, smiles and laughs through some of these posts.  I have been sincerely encouraged by these mom's honesty about their struggles and joys.  It is so nice to know the things you think are just out-of-this-world crazy are actually completely normal and you are completely normal.    I hope you can read these women's perspectives with a non-judgemental spirit as we have a great opportunity to learn from someone walking a different (and difficult) mile in a different pair of shoes than us.   Here's to you first-year moms!!  You are doing a fantastic job!  (Don't forget to check out the end of this blog post.)

Series Links:

Here are questions that I asked my first year moms to think over and respond to:

1. Are you a working or stay-at-home mom?  What were the motivating factors for you to choose that route?

2. What has been one of the greatest challenges in motherhood this first year?

3. How do you stay Christ-centered as a new mom? What does your time with the Lord look like?

4. What do you wish other people (maybe moms-to-be or non-moms) knew about your personal experience in this past year?

Savannah D.
I teach 2nd grade. Financially, for our family, I need to work. We could make it work if I didn't; however, a lot of things in our life would be very different. Plus, I desire to work. I use to say, before I was married and even at the beginning of my marriage, that I would love to be a SAHM.  My desire has changed since then, not simply because I don't want to stay home with my child, but because I love what I do.  I feel that what I do is important and I feel called to it. My classroom is one place where I get to love big like Jesus and teach little people important things. I get to build relationships with families. I feel the urge to keep doing it even though I have a child now.

The greatest challenge I've faced so far would have to be trying to balance all of life. I've only been back at work for 3 weeks, and I'm still trying to figure out how to do my job well, be a great mother, loving wife, a decent housekeeper, find time for myself, read my Bible, and everything else that is a part of the daily grind. I feel like I'm going at full speed 24/7 and wondering will it ever slow down.

Quite honestly, my time with the Lord has been very rare in my almost 3 months of mom-ing. The time I have spent in the word has been so good and so needed and refreshing, but somehow I can't make it happen every day, not even every other day. Sometimes the only time I get with Him is on my 40-minute commute to work or back when I'm praying. This is hard in general, but it's been even more of a challenge for me since I became a mother. However, being a mom has made me extremely aware of my selfishness and more grateful for grace. And when I think about it, I'm more in awe of the Gospel and how God gave up his Son for us.

I want people to know that I absolutely hated being pregnant. If I have it my way it will never happen again and we will adopt more kids. I had a C-Section after 18.5 hours of labor with a failed epidural.  I didn't feel any less of a woman because they had to cut me to get my baby out. It's not what I wanted nor what I expected, but at the end of the day I was just happy that my baby was in my arms and that I was no longer pregnant. I felt like I was supposed to feel a certain way about having a section based on what I've read and heard others talk about. So I spent a lot of time wondering if I was even a normal woman for not feeling like I'd failed at birthing my son. I hated breastfeeding. I did not enjoy nursing at all, so I only did it for 2 weeks. I chose sanity over it because I felt that was more important: that my well-being mattered because I had the responsibility of taking care of a tiny human. So I hate the question, "Are you breastfeeding?" now because it sometimes makes me feel guilty. I just weaned myself from the pump, and I have mixed feelings about it since soon he will only get formula instead of a mixture. But at the end of the day, he is not going hungry, he's growing, and he's healthy. And that's a win, in my opinion.

Elizabeth T.

The motivating factor to be a working mom was because of insurance.  With the circumstances that my family and I are in currently, (my husband Trey is a full-time student) I have to work to provide insurance for everyone. If you would have asked me a year and a half ago if I thought I would be a stay-at-home mom I would have said, “ I hope that I have the option to stay home.” My mom was able to stay home with us until we started school and I always thought that is what I would be able to do too, but the Lord has different plans and right now. I would like other people to know that I totally respect moms that stay at home! While I would LOVE so much to stay at home with Mary Nelson all day, every day; I can’t imagine actually doing it.

One way that I am intentional with Mary Nelson is in our time together in the evenings during our bedtime routine.  We typically spend quality time together by not turning on the TV and just rolling around, laughing and playing on the floor. Mary Nelson loves to use us as her own personal jungle gym.  From a very young age, I implemented a bedtime routine with Mary Nelson. While at first this was just so Trey and I would have some sanity, now I genuinely look forward to the laughs and fun in the bathtub to the stories and cuddles right before bed. That is OUR time and no matter how tired I am or what my day has been like, there's something about that 25-30 minutes with her that really gets me through the day.

I would say the most challenging thing about being a working mother is the balancing act.  To be honest, I am slightly a perfectionist and VERY much a control freak; therefore, in the early days of motherhood I struggled with post-partum depression.  While I don’t know exactly why, I honestly believe it was because I felt that I was loosing control.

I am ashamed to say that remaining Christ-centered as a mother is also a very difficult. I feel like my discipleship group (D-group) that meets once a week is my outlet. It is my way of stay connected, along with holding me accountable to spending time in prayer and the Word. My time with the Lord is not as it should be and I know that; while this is not the fault of motherhood but simply my lack of making things a priority. I strive to spend time with the Lord every day; however, many days I fail. I am doing good to get out the door with all the items we need for daycare, so many days I find myself listening to a podcast by Matt Chandler or Tim Keller on my commute and challenging myself to meditate on the lessons throughout the day.

I wish other people knew that I often feel that I am missing out on some of the sweetest, most special months and years of Mary Nelson's childhood. I am blessed with a job that is flexible and have co-workers that understand the importance of family; however, I am scared I am going to miss Mary Nelson's first step, and all the milestones to follow. I don’t like the idea of my daycare teacher telling me things about my child that I don’t even know.  It's weird.

Hannah K.

I am a working mom. Financially, staying at home is not an option for my family.  However, I really do enjoy working.  It keeps me sane.

I think my biggest challenge has been realizing that just like me, Ruby is sinful. And just like me, Ruby is in need of grace. By the grace I show her, I hope that she gets even a glimpse of the grace the Father has for us.

Grace is the only way I have been able to stay Christ-centered during this first year of motherhood. I honestly would pull my hair out if not for grace. I have to give myself grace daily. I'm not a perfect mom, and I know that.  It's okay to show your child that. It's important that they know that life is not about perfection, but humility in your imperfection. Going to Christ who IS our perfection. My time with the Lord has changed a lot since Ruby was born. I don't have 1-hour to sit at a table uninterrupted like I used to.  I get to work a little earlier so I can read my bible; moreover, I pray on the way to work. Any time I have that I can just be in communion with the Lord is precious. I think he has grace for us when we just make an effort.

I think it's important to know as a new mom or mom-to-be that YOU are the mom. Take advice if you want it.  Otherwise, try to take things that people may say with a grain of salt.   It's easy to feel inadequate when people project their [unwanted] advice and opinions on you. Ultimately, your submission as a parent is to the Lord, so seek Him. Read what He says, pray for discernment. He gives us an intuition as moms that is unexpected and so sweet.

Katelyn W.

I am an odd mixture of a working and SAHM. I am home half of the week and the other half is spent nannying for a family, but my babe goes with me. I had been sitting for this family for 2 years before I had Emerson and when the mom asked me if I wanted to continue sitting for them the next year and bring Emerson with me it was kind of a no brainer! I knew I wanted to stay home with my child(ren) since I was fairly young. My mom stayed home and homeschooled me and my sisters for part of our education, so I'm sure that had some kind of influence on my picture of motherhood. I'm also very sentimental and don't want to miss anything. One time I was babysitting and witnessed the baby roll over. I wasn't sure if it was his first time ever to do that, so I just didn't tell his mom so she wouldn't know she missed it. I knew then I didn't want to pay someone else to spend time with my child. I have nothing against moms who choose to work, I just know it's not for me!

The hardest part of becoming a mother has been feeling like I am tied down. It's hard to have someone completely dependent on you. During the first 3 months of Emerson's life, it was stressful to me to figure out how to accomplish errands knowing I couldn't be away for more that 2 hours. It's easier now that he's not eating quite so often and is easier to distract, but it definitely still gets to me some days.

The change in my spiritual walk has also been something difficult about motherhood. My normal quiet time gets interrupted too many times to count, and most days if and when I have even a quiet time depends on if I get a minute to sit down and read or listen to something. Honestly, it's made me more aware of "living" with Christ. I am forced to pray and acknowledge His presence as I clean, change diapers, play with E; instead of setting aside a certain amount of time to spend with Christ. I wouldn't say these are bad or negative changes per say, for I am certainly more aware of God's love as a Father. Putting aside my needs and desires and being a mom is a spiritual thing in itself!

To non-moms/non-parents: Selfishly, I wish people were more thoughtful about hanging out with us. A lot of times we had to say no to things because they weren't ideal places to take a tired, hungry baby; or we weren't given enough notice to find a sitter. We said no to things so often that people would just stop inviting us to things. We probably would have said no anyway, but an invitation would have been nice. Because of this, and feeling tied down like I mentioned above, I felt very alone during Emerson's first months.

For moms to-be: Your irrational thoughts are normal! Baby blues and PPD aren't talked about in depth enough.  I did not have PPD, but I had some pretty dark and horrific days during the first several weeks postpartum. Once I was feeling so numb and lost and unmotivated that I just walked out of the house and drove around the neighborhood. I didn't tell my husband where I was going and didn't take my phone. Pretty stupid, but I wasn't thinking straight. I realized after a couple more bad days that things like that happened when I didn't eat. I had to learn to take care of myself as much as I could and accept help from others! What I was doing was not heroic at all. Prepare yourself and know dark days are coming and when you're in that place, no matter how dark and twisted your thoughts are, you are not alone. I would venture to say almost all moms have thoughts like that at some point!

Ashley U.

I am a working stay-at-home mom. My mother quit her job to stay at home with me, and I knew that was something I wanted to do, as well. My mother is one of my best friends, and I hope to have that kind of relationship with my daughters. Financially, however, I am not able to completely quit work, so I continue to photograph weddings, engagements, and now families! I had another business before the girls were born, but the time I wanted to spend with them outweighed my desire to keep that business; therefore, I closed it down so I wouldn't have to put them in daycare. It was hard to say no to the extra money, especially since it accounted for half of my income, but after a lot of prayer, we decided it was a God-honoring decision.

Working from home with twins is so, so difficult. I was used to doing what I wanted, when I wanted, and how I wanted. Now my life revolves around them, and I accomplish majority of my daily tasks/work tasks when they nap. Praise The Lord for naps. Especially when they nap at the same time! My favorite part about motherhood is the fact that I am the only one who is their mother. When they are upset, they desire me. When they are hungry, they look to me. When they want to snuggle, they find me. I also find my heart melting when they giggle at one another. THE best!

Staying Christ-centered is a little tough sometimes, especially when others give their opinions on how to handle your children. I find myself reciting James 1:19 often, in my head. “Quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger.” As a new mom that helps me; reciting scripture. It's obviously challenging to find quiet time with the Lord, but I find that right when they go down for their first nap is the best time for me. I'm awake and alert, and, more importantly, it is quiet. I simply read the bible - one chapter a day, sometimes two - and then I meditate and pray. It works for me.

Give yourself a break. I don't mean a literal break, although those are sometimes necessary, but a mental/physical break. Starting out as a new mom I felt pressured; pressured to be who I was before, without kids: successful, fit, clean, put-together. I strived and worked hard to keep up the ‘old Ashley,’ and it wasn't working. I still struggle with my perfectionist ways, but I have come a long way, and I thank God for His grace.

This is extra, but mother your children how you see fit! I believe God has given us the ability to do this. And when you just aren't sure, don't be afraid to ask for help!

Ashley is a talented photographer based in the Jackson, Mississippi area.  Check out her amazing work at Ashley Upchurch Photography

Sharla L.
I work outside the home. I like being in a routine of being out of the house all day and working. And another factor was for financial reasons. I needed to work.

The greatest challenge of being a mother is balancing being a mom and getting house work done. All I wanna do is hold my sweet boy as soon as we get home, but I know I need to put him down and get things done around the house. It's hard balancing work life as well. I feel like some days I'm not being the best teacher I can be, because I would much rather be at home with Parker. There have been days where I don't want to drop him in his room at daycare. I would rather keep him with me, but I know I can't do that because I have to do my job.

I would want other moms to not be afraid to ask for help if you need a break. I should have asked for help and still wish I could ask for help. There are days where I just want to be alone and have time to my self.

If you are first-year mom yourself, we would love for you to take a minute and answer these questions yourself.  If you have been encouraged by these moms' posts, take a minute to comment below and let them know!  It takes a lot to be vulnerable and share your heart and all of the struggles.  

1. Are you a working or stay-at-home mom?  What were the motivating factors for you to choose that route?

2. What has been one of the greatest challenges in motherhood this first year?

3. How do you stay Christ-centered as a new mom? What does your time with the Lord look like?

4. What do you wish other people (maybe moms-to-be or non-moms) knew about your personal experience in this past year?

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...