Motherhood is not for the faint of heart.
There are joys and challenges, and you never know which you’ll be dealing with on any given day. Most likely, both.
It’s busy and stressful and sweet and stimulating- and it’s ok to take a moment now and then to marvel at the wonder of it all- no matter what stage you’re in. From before babyhood and throughout the rest of our lives, our worlds are intertwined with our children’s worlds. Ever changing, growing or shrinking. Opening us to the full range of human emotions.
It starts with an expansion, when a mother’s heart, mind and body begins to grow. At the end of this period of growth, it’s contractions, or “pressure waves” or whatever you choose to call them, that are the finish line in the first marathon of motherhood. But a mother can never fully contract back into one person, once we’ve been two. We remain an expanded version of ourselves, often with a greater introspection or capacity to love.
Even several years out of that baby stage now, I find myself thinking about how much pregnancy, labor, and delivery are the first physical manifestation of the expansions and contractions that happen throughout our lives as mothers.
When my babies were babies, I reveled in the tiny world we created. Especially those overnight feeds, when sometimes it honestly felt like we were the only two people on the planet. Maybe in the whole universe.
My heart expanded almost to bursting, but my world shrunk all the way down to meet that tiny person who depended on me every hour, every day.
As he grew, my world grew too, but incrementally. I struggled to find a village in early motherhood. I wish I had realized then, that in my loneliness, it was inevitably coming.
As babies grow, they expand our lives, too.
My young family relocated to a Houston suburb, and boom- my world exploded. A second baby. A huge period of growth, meeting and making mom friends. Creating my ‘village.’
As my children began preschool, their worlds got so much bigger. Mine kept rapidly growing in tandem.
Now that both my children are in elementary school, my older child several years in, these waves of expansion and contraction are more pronounced, more cyclical around the school calendar.
Summer is such a sweet time of shrinking down our world, pressing pause on being busy all the time. But even these smaller summers are feeling bigger as my kids get older.
School starts- their world, and mine, expands.
It’s keeping track of the names of people in my children’s lives, their teachers, their classmates, their friends, and then all their friends’ parents and siblings. So many names.
It’s having an abundance of contacts in my phone that read something like “Jane Jones, Sophia’s Mom, Dance.”
My “mom” world is really, really big right now.
Each expansion getting larger and larger. Each contraction shrinking a little less.
And one day, I’ll marvel at this moment, this iteration of motherhood that felt so overwhelmingly huge. When we haven’t even reached full capacity yet.
And even from this vantage point, I can already sense the looming contraction coming when my children are grown.
My world will never again be as small as it was before motherhood amplified it. How lovely, how permanent that feels. Years from now, even when my daily life contracts again, I’ll still keep these connections to a world that is resoundingly larger than the one I lived in before.
These are the midnight thoughts we think but don’t share. Embracing the enormity of it all, ebbing and flowing with each shift, knowing life is changing and our happiness and mental health depend on how much we can adapt and flow.
And grow. And shrink. And then do it all again. And again. And again.