Every mother can attest to the momentousness of one’s first full calendar year as a parent. It’s incredible how a tiny little person can transform our world, adding weight and meaning to holidays and events that might previously have gone underappreciated or even unnoticed. So many firsts! So much that is new! With milestones and photo opportunities at every corner, these little ones make us hyper vigilant of the too-slow-but-not-slow-enough passage of time.
Ironically, I’ve found that my second year of motherhood feels just as foreign as the first; we are no longer navigating totally uncharted territory, but the lack of newness has a novelty all of its own. Pre-parenthood, when I saw other moms of toddlers, I viewed them as pros: after more than twelve months with a child, they MUST have this whole parenting game down to a science. Now that I am that “seasoned parent,” I feel like more of a newbie than ever before. It’s surreal to think that this Sunday I will celebrate my SECOND Mother’s Day as a mom!
I’ve always been one for introspection, and parenthood has further enhanced these proclivities toward personal reflection. Now, as I approach this not-so-new holiday, my mind has been spending extra time contemplating my history with this significant day. Just three years ago, the prospect of having a baby was a deeply felt desire, but also something that seemed very far away. Two Mother’s Days ago, I was mourning a recent miscarriage that left me wondering whether my only chance at motherhood had come and gone. And last Mother’s Day, I was just emerging from the foggy fourth trimester, still steeped in the chaos of infanthood but very much in love with my baby boy. Now, here we are, with thousands more diaper changes, nursing sessions, and heart-exploding moments behind us, and more than a year’s worth of experiences to inform my thoughts on parenthood.
Though I didn’t fully realize it at the time, giving birth to Charlie resulted in two new relationships: that which I share with my son, and also the relationship I have with my new role as a mom. That second relationship is a complicated one. On most days, it’s a beautiful love affair. I am enthralled with the sheer title of Mommy and all the purpose and value it embodies. And I have been pleasingly surprised by some of the desirable qualities motherhood has unearthed in me: I am much sillier, more sensitive and empathetic, and generally more tolerant than pre-parenting Kendra could ever be. I’ve also learned to lean on God more than ever before.
But there are aspects of motherhood that have been hard for me to accept. I frequently feel weighed down by the daily responsibilities and decisions of parenting, and it terrifies me to think of the bigger challenges that lie ahead. I pursue perfectionism, only to be reminded again and again that there’s no such thing as a perfect parent. Motherhood has a way of drawing attention to—and even enhancing—some of my ugliest character flaws, making me excruciatingly aware of my insecurities, selfishness, impatience, and rigidity. I am forced to confront my sinful nature with painful regularity, and I struggle to give grace to myself in the midst of my personal shortcomings.
Thankfully, these challenges cannot hold a candle to the joy that is my son. I am enamored with his toothy grin, his limitless curiosity, his chubby little thighs. I love the way he snuggles into my lap for a story or to nurse, the bobbing of his head when I break into song, that contagious giggle that erupts at the strangest times. I hate seeing him cry, but love that he turns to me to console him, accepting my kisses as the ultimate solution to his every trouble. He loves me in spite of my inadequacies, and he inspires me to strive for personal betterment. Each day with him is a gift, one that is too easily taken for granted but priceless nevertheless. I cherish my boy, and I am proud and thankful for the opportunity to embrace this challenging, terrifying, and altogether miraculous role as his mom.