I look at my daughter and she looks so grown up. She is looking more and more like a child each day, and less like the tiny baby she was. As we are approaching her first birthday, I’ve been reminiscing of all the tiny moments over the past year. Moments that feel like they were yesterday, and long ago, at the same time. I can’t help but feel sadness and guilt as I look back, because during those precious moments there was a lot of time I was wishing the time would pass quickly. I’m mourning the time I wished away in anger and frustration.
I want to go back and shake myself and yell at that version of me that I will only have that moment with her once, stop wishing the time away. The guilt I feel now is immense, it weighs on me, it saddens me, it makes me break down at times because I wanted each difficult stage to be over. I counted down the minutes to nap time and bedtime so I could have time alone away from her. I wanted time alone with my husband. I wanted to sleep, I wanted to shower, I wanted to eat. I blamed her at times for being cranky, or needy, or upset which is ridiculous, because she was a baby. I looked forward so often, thinking that once I was through this stage it would get better, only to be into the next tough stage and start wishing away the time again. Now that we’re in her birthday month, I am mourning all that time I wished away, because I can’t have it back. Instead of being in the moment with my baby girl, I wanted her to grow up quicker because I was struggling greatly.
It took me a lot longer than I would like to admit to enjoy being a mother. I really didn’t feel joy in it until Claire was close to 6 months. Prior to that, I felt like I was constantly in survival mode. Now, even in the difficult moments, I have so much more patience and grace with her. I am not perfect by any means, but I try to be much more mindful daily with her when she’s cranky, upset, or needy. I’m trying so hard now to be present, to engage and interact with her to make up for all the time I wished she would sleep, and for all the days I wished the teething stage would be over.
I can’t get those moments back. The moments in the dark when I would rock her to sleep. When she would cry and only be calmed by being held by me. The emotions I feel are so complicated. I know that at the time I wasn’t meaning to wish away my time with her, but that I was so sleep deprived that I was wanting my own necessities of life. Motherhood is so incredibly hard and isolating. The physical trauma you experience lasts much longer after birth. The emotional turmoil that can ensue for months as you adjust to your new role and responsibility. The weight of guilt you may feel for not spending enough time focusing on your child. The regret.
I’m writing this for myself, and for any other mother who feels the same. Any mother who feels the incredibly heavy weight of guilt for wanting their baby to grow up so that life would get easier. We didn’t do it on purpose, we are not bad mothers. We were in survival mode, we were barely getting by, we were struggling, and that’s normal. We don’t all adjust to this incredibly difficult role with ease. We are not bad mothers, and our children have not been damaged because of us. Time passes so quickly, we need to forgive ourselves. I need to forgive myself. I can mourn the time that has passed, but I’m going to look forward to the next stages with excitement and joy.
My beautiful baby is going to be one.