My First Mother's Day

11:54 AM

Last year on Mother’s Day, I was overdue with no labour signs in sight. I had hoped she would come before Mother’s Day so that I could have my first Mother’s Day snuggling a newborn, but it didn’t seem to be happening. I remember that was one of the days in particular I expected to go into labour all day and as I fell asleep at night I couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed. People wished me Happy Mother’s Day anyways… but part of me really struggled to feel like a mother. I knew I was growing a baby but there was still a disconnect there where I feared I would never get to “be a mom.” Years of fears and disappointments and painful Mother’s Days made me feel so weird last year as if I could hardly believe I was actually going to meet and take home a healthy baby. I just had to hold on to hope that everything would go right. But I couldn’t picture my baby’s face… I couldn’t imagine how it would feel to hold her… and I still was so afraid of becoming a mom in a sense. Yes, I was over-the-freaking-moon excited but I was also afraid. I worried I had fought SO hard to be a mom and wondered if I was going to be bad at it. What if I missed my old life? What if I didn’t bond with my baby? What if I felt like it wasn’t for me after all and I was trapped in a life I wouldn’t feel happy in? What if my marriage became super hard and having a baby brought us apart? So many fears constantly came at me and I just did my best to fight them off and not give them the space to really get at me. I reminded myself that this life was *meant* for me and that motherhood was a calling. It wasn’t just by happenstance that I was finally becoming a mother but with great purpose and that God’s timing was perfect. Of course, fears always come at us but knowing what to fight them with makes all the difference. I always challenge myself to combat fears with positivity and truth. I can’t help the fears but I can help how I respond to them. I went into the following week feeling positive and ready to meet my baby. Looking back, it’s so crazy to think of that time of waiting with anticipation, while also having so many blank spaces in my mind of how this baby would change my life.

And then she came, 5 days “overdue” but exactly when she was meant to arrive…and she changed my life in every way, many of which I could have never understood or expected.

The past year of motherhood has not been without some real fears and some real challenges but new joy and purpose now fill my days to overflowing. Motherhood is so hard to explain to those who aren’t mothers…I really thought I understood it and I had no idea. It’s so hard to explain just how special it is, especially in a society that tries to belittle parenting roles and encourages women to be "so much more" than mothers, as if that's not really a very fulfilling calling. I had no idea how I would balance motherhood with all my other pursuits and I still don’t, you just find a way. But whatever commitments a mom has, I am certain 9 out of 10 moms wish they could just spend their time with their baby and not have to leave them. Society doesn't really talk about that - you don't see that part of motherhood. We see women balancing it all with a smile and we think "wow she really has it all!" But inside, many moms are just crying and longing to be at home. Not all of them, and that's the beauty of our era - women can truly follow their hearts. But it does make me sad for the women whose hearts are wholly on being at home and they just can't make that work for them so work becomes such a sad thing and they wish away their days. That makes my heart ache and I know I would be that woman if I wasn't at home with Isla. I decided with Scott’s full support that for this season, as long as we could get by, that I would not return to any level of full-time commitment to my career. I was a very driven career-focused woman from the age 18 onward and I gave it my all, sacrificing a LOT. I missed out on many memories with friends and family but the push up the hill to finally reach what I considered success in my field was what I knew I had to do. All the goals I set way back then, I did reach and I am definitely very proud and grateful for that time and all those amazing people who entrusted me with their memories. But even still, looking back, I do know and see that relationships in my life suffered while I was out helping preserve memories for others and that is time I can’t get back and closeness with people that is no longer there. When you are self-employed, your job never really ends and it’s really hard to find that balance between work and everything else. Everything else undoubtedly takes the back burner at times and I felt a strong sense when we began pursuing fertility treatment that we were entering a new season - a slow season that was slow on purpose. It takes a lot of work when you’re a busy body to actually slow down. I had to let go of the personality traits I associated with my identity that were all about pushing my career because I was no longer doing that. So much of my identity was wrapped in being that person. I did not feel pressured by anyone or anything to choose to stay home with Isla - in fact in 2018 the pressures are very much the opposite. I have moreso battled feelings that I have let people down, which could maybe even be accurate because people really now believe women should do it all - career and parenting and taking care of a house all simultaneously. However, I know for myself I would never find that sweet spot or balance of all those things...some areas, maybe all of them, would suffer. Please know I do not judge anyone who loves their work and knows that is the right fit for them and they've found balance for their family. I also know for some, staying at home just isn't an option financially and they can't see it working or perhaps their husband stays home instead. We have made it work because I do still actually take bookings, but casually and often enough that it's actually just super fun and satisfying for me to pick up my camera again and create but not too often that I feel stressed and overloaded. Being a full-time wedding and portrait photographer was the BEST job for a season and I loved my life. But now being a mom with a part-time casual photography gig is the BEST job in this season and I love my life. Everything has its season and I am so grateful to be in this new one for however long it works out.

Motherhood has blessed me in so many ways and brought out the best in me and helped me combat the worst in me. Some moments are so sweet I feel like my heart is going to burst…and some moments are so challenging that I feel my head is going to fall off. In every moment, I am growing and being shaped into a softer, kinder, more patient person. While I think I am showing Isla the world and teaching her what matters, she is showing me the world and teaching me what matters. She smiles and talks to strangers and takes an interest in everyone around her. She stops and watches nature slowly and beams at the trees. She takes on everything with wonder and curiosity. Doing life alongside her has helped strip away all the complications of adulthood and brought me back to the simplicity of enjoying life and soaking in the moments. Of course, my patience gets tested from time to time but she really is the sweetest sidekick. The biggest challenge for me so far has been losing my free time that I would use to get stuff done quickly and efficiently. It feels like nothing is done fast and efficient anymore at all and things drag on. I’ve been cleaning my yard up for two weeks now…whereas I used to just spend 2 full days out there and voila - it would be done. I like to get things done and then move on to the next thing and enjoy crossing things off my list. With this big old house, the list definitely is never completed and that can make me bummed out because I want it to be beautiful and clean and ready for hosting at all times. But this is what I am learning - to let go of the need for things to be perfect all the time, and just be. Be together, have fun, yes of course clean and be responsible too, but make memories and live. 

With all it's emotions, good times and bad, being at home with Isla and spending our days together has been a joy and I wouldn’t trade it for anything!

I am so thankful for this opportunity to be a mother - to be called “mama” all day long and have a baby find her rest and comfort in my arms. She gives me kisses and hugs now without me even asking and when she is scared or upset or unwell, it’s me she wants. It melts my heart to be able to soothe her and meet her needs and know I am forever making a ripple in history by pouring my life into another’s. It’s a beautiful thing. I remind myself that every single little seemingly insignificant moment with her is shaping her character and her worldview. It’s my responsibility to help her navigate through this life and I really take it seriously. Life in a sense is so short…and so many of the things we focus on and stress about day in and day out is ultimately quite meaningless. I am trying to remind myself that the generic stresses of today won’t matter a year from now, but the gentleness, love, patience, excitement and adventure I pour into Isla’s day will matter. Everything I do for her and with her will always matter. So I constantly pray and ask God to remind me of what is important and to set my whole focus on those things. It’s so human and normal to back away from hard work. I think about the possibility of one day having to pursue fertility treatment over an hour away from home again and the only thoughts that run through my mind are “I am not doing that again…that season was so hard.” But then I ask myself “but was it worth it?” and I am reminded that just because something is hard (and seemingly impossible at times) doesn’t mean that it isn’t worth it. Some days it really does feel very hard to stay at home…and it feels impossible to get everything done. Some days it feels impossible to pay all the bills and expenses…and it’s hard to realize that we can’t afford the vacations we want or the home renos we want. But then I look at Isla as she puts her head on my shoulder and leans in for a kiss and my heart is at ease, because it is totally worth it. I will never regret the moments spent with her, ever. There will always be bills to pay, and places to go, and things to do...but there won't always be little arms reaching for for now, my arms are here and ready.

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