I feel like today I woke for the first time in a long time, and definitely for the first time since becoming a mother. I feel like for the past ten weeks since my daughter, Lucy, was born, I have been in a sort of fog. Just drifting aimlessly from one sleepless night, one feeding, one diaper change to the next without really enjoying my life. I have looked forward to having time to myself whenever possible, and then spent that time sleeping or crying in my room because I felt so overwhelmed. I hated my body, and felt like my weight was getting out of control. My stretch marks disgusted me and half the time I was out of the house, I was worrying about whether or not my clothes were covering what I thought of as my gross, distended belly. I loved my daughter passionately, but was always unsure of how to express my love, and too focused on just getting through every long day to actually enjoy the time I got to spend with her. I always saw the days I spent with her as a sort of prison, a punishment of sorts. I never thought of myself as being privileged because I had the ability to spend my days with my daughter while my boyfriend worked and my parents and siblings were at school. I never realized how lucky I was to be able to enjoy her by myself for hours every single day, or how many places I could take her and how many things I could teach her, even though I didn't have a driver's license or a car (which I worried and fretted about at all times, thinking of myself as a loser).
Then today, something inside me just clicked. I was changing Lucy's diaper and I realized that we had all day to do whatever we wanted, and that spending time with her could actually be the best part of my day. So I grabbed my daughter, a book, and her bottle and headed outside. We sat on the porch and I read to her from the book I was reading, which wasn't really meant for children, but which she seemed to enjoy. I realized that just because I don't always read her children's books doesn't mean she can't learn from being read to, and it doesn't mean she doesn't enjoy the sound of my voice. Then, as I was feeding her and holding her hand and kissing her while she giggled and sucked on her bottle, I realized that feeding my daughter wasn't a chore, but a beautiful, moment where I could sit and bond with her. We took lots of breaks feeding at lunch today to kiss and cuddle and giggle, and it was absolutely wonderful. We played in the leaves, played airplane in the yard, and introduced ourselves to our mailman. It was wonderful, and we only went back inside when she was sleepy.
It was so great today to finally realize that even though I don't get to do some of things I wanted to do before I became pregnant, there are so many opportunities that I wouldn't have had if it weren't for Lucy. For instance, I never would have gotten to show her the purple flowers that grow in the front yard, or teach her how wonderful it is to snap dead leaves between your fingers. I never would have gotten to sit and play patty cake with her for fifteen minutes, or practice counting forward and backward from ten until we both got bored. I realized that making life wonderful and magical for my daughter could teach me to make life wonderful and magical for myself for the first time in a long time. From now on I am going to play with my daughter outside and not worry about how I look. I'm not going to worry about the stretch marks or the extra weight I'm carrying around now. I'm not going to get defensive about my choice to formula feed, and I'm not going to feel terrible for having my daughter so young.
I am her only mother, and she is my only child. We love one another and I realized, finally, that nothing else really matters. No one else's opinions of the way I parent or the way I look should bother me. She is proud of me and adores me, and when I look back on our early life together, that's all I'm going to remember.