It’s been almost year since you changed. You became a mother. Your life will never be the same.
Life is no longer all about you. You’ll watch the Olympics and put yourself in the shoes of the cheering and crying mother in the stands instead of the athlete in the pool or on the track. You’ll imagine your daughter’s wedding day, not your own. You’ll try to imagine what it will be like when she leaves you to go away for college one day and the thought of her leaving you will already hurt. When you see mothers mourning the loss of their children on the news, you will cry a tear for them. Your heart will ache at the thought of losing her.
You’ll rock her in your arms when she’s eleven months old and sing her to sleep and cry, wondering how many more moments like this are left. You’ll wonder if this is the last time she’ll need you in that way every time she nurses. You’ll reflect back on the day that you are wishing would come more quickly – the day you give birth to her – and feel pride that you able to stay strong through the pain and deliver naturally, but also wish you had given yourself a little more grace. You’ll want to tell yourself to remember that no matter how your baby is fed, she will be happy if you are happy. You’ll look back at your pregnant body and be proud that you carried such a strong, resilient child inside of you and not care about the extra pounds.
Your marriage will never be the same. Your husband will be a father. He will be your rock during your labor and your intimacy will go to new heights. There will be more love, more pride in the fact that you are a family, but also more compromises and more arguments. You won’t get to spend as much quality time with him as you want but it will make the alone time even more special. You will watch him make her laugh and love him even more than you did before.
You will make sacrifices. Money previously spent on vacations will be spent on diapers and any toy that you think will make her happy. You won’t be able to go to yoga class or go for a run whenever you want. You won’t see a movie in the theater for at least a year. You won’t be able to meet friends for drinks if it’s Tuesday and Mike is working late. Even if Mike is home, you won’t feel like you can be gone too long. You’ll hear yourself saying “no” more than “yes.” You’ll look back at the time before you had her and wonder why you didn’t take advantage of your freedom more. Just like everyone warned, you should have slept more! You’ll be pulled in a million directions and sometimes feel like you’re dropping every ball you’re juggling. You’ll know this is a phase that will pass and simultaneously wish for time to move faster and slower.
You will never smile more. Your daughter will bring you joy that no other human has ever given you. Your marriage will be more resilient. Your life will have more meaning and purpose than it ever has. You will be so incredibly thankful that you are able to be a mother. You’ll be thankful that your daughter is healthy and that you are healthy enough to spend quality time with her. You will appreciate, revere and love your own mother even more.
Nicole of a year go, enjoy these final weeks. Savor the feeling of your daughter kicking inside you. Listen to the sound of a quiet, empty house. Linger over coffee with Mike. Because life will never be the same, but it’s about to get a lot sweeter.
What would you say to yourself a year ago? What would you say to yourself just before a big life transition?