In my current season of life, I get 2ish hours a day to myself. My daughter’s morning nap and then her afternoon nap. This season is short lived, seeing as she will eventually only need one nap and then no naps at all. And if I’m so blessed to have more babies, I will have older toddlers and children to care for. So this is in fact a season. But it’s such an exquisite one. (Most of the time, anyhow.)
I have to be very mindful of how I spend those 2 hours. I hate when I hear her awakening to realize I’ve spent the past 60 minutes scrolling on facebook. I like to use the time to read, to write, to bake, to create, if I don’t have work stuff to take care of.
I recently started cloth diapering. Which is slightly ridiculous because I inherited a full use of cloth diapering materials before Amata was born. And I’m just getting around to it at 9 months. It seems to fit in with this chapter where I feel such a powerful urge to be resourceful, inventive, and methodical. Of course it’s more work and more time. But it feels oddly grounding and satisfyingly domestic. For now anyhow. 😉
I’ve been making anything I can from scratch. Baking bread, canning vegetables, making jam, concocting homemade desserts, anything really that involves using my hands. Seeing as I work on my computer, that’s usually the extent to which my hands labor. These somatic projects allow me time to be reflective and meditative.
There’s so much I have found that is instinctual in babies’ early months. With breastfeeding, newborns cluster feed to ramp up your supply, especially in the evening. Our bodies make the most milk at night and that is also when babies (painfully, annoyingly, frustratingly) wake and get their calories and the highest quality milk. With baby led weaning, I watch my daughter take baby bites out of an entire plum and spit out the parts that are too big to swallow. While I find that she is moving towards a more toddler like disposition, (so things aren’t quite as instinctual as they used to be) I haven’t lost touch with the fact that motherhood, like babyhood, is largely instinctual. If we can get quiet enough to listen to those instincts, there is pure gold there. People frequently told me “babies are smarter than we think.” But I believe mothers, too, are smarter than we give ourselves credit for.
Motherhood has given me superpowers that include a new reservoir for patience, ability to listen to my intuition, and an explosion of creativity in domesticity. Maybe I’m crazy, but I think the uptick in tactile tasks is an instinctual way for me to savor the season.
Before giving birth, I was really terrified of labor. I kept thinking, “How is *that* going to to come from *there*?” Everyone kept telling me, “Your body knows what to do. It’s different than anything else you’ve ever done.” Well, motherhood seems to be an extension of that. It’s different than anything I’ve ever done. It pushes me to my limits, and then past them. And you know what? I’m really really thankful for the opportunity to grow and learn about myself through the process of motherhood.
We commonly ask pregnant women with a hint of anticipation, “Is it your first?” While I’m embarrassed to admit it, I always find myself a little less excited when they say no. I think with first time pregnancies, the suspense and excitement lies in the fact that both the mother and baby have yet to be born.
I revisited my journal recently from those early early months of new motherhood that were darkly shadowed and overpowered by anxiety and depression. I wrote about how I felt like I had been born into motherhood and I needed time to transition into that. It’s been a long 9 months, but I feel like both my little one and I have grown into our new selves with much more enjoyment and delight than I ever thought possible. (Not without bad days and nights, of course.)
If I could go back in time, I would tell my newly postpartum self that I just needed time, flexibility and a wholeeee lotta grace to grow into this new role. And that I would. I would grow and stretch and my heart would swell. That I didn’t need to be any other kind of mom than me.
And that’s just how I’m feeling today. Now, I have diapers to launder and dinner to throw in the crock pot. I’m just a regular old domestic kinda gal, what can I say?