My daughter was just shy of 3 months old and screaming up a storm while we were surrounded by family and friends at our big annual Mother’s Day brunch. Little kids were running around everywhere and playing, and I was holding my screaming child.
At that point my husband and I were still barely getting any sleep, and as I have admitted in previous blog posts, I hadn’t yet bonded with my poor colicky baby girl.
I have a distinct recollection of sitting on the couch while some wonderful family member held my baby to give me a break. I looked over at my then 4 year old niece and was filled with love for her. And then, immediately, I was filled with sadness. I love my niece dearly, and, at that moment, I genuinely loved her more than my old child.
I feel terrible saying that, and I felt terrible feeling that. But I would do a disservice to mothers, who I know have struggled with these very same feelings, to not admit that.
The picture above is of me holding my daughter on my first Mother’s Day, and I look oddly rested and happy. I love that I have this picture because it masks what I remember feeling like when it was taken.
I felt love for my niece, but at that point in my early days of motherhood, I felt mostly responsibility and duty for my own child.
Everyone was wishing me a happy Mother’s Day and I had to hold back tears, because I didn’t feel like celebrating the day. I didn’t feel like celebrating being a mother.
How awful is that?
There is something harrowing about colic. There is something cruel about a mother’s introduction to mommyhood being so devoid of moments of calm and happiness. There were few if any moments of motherhood leading up to that first Mother’s Day where I had time, energy or emotional expense enough to look lovingly at that precious little girl and feel anything more than exhaustion.
If today me could talk to then me, I wouldn’t try to tell myself to smile, because it would have just made me feel worse that I didn’t much feel like it. But I would give me a hug and say I understand and that it won’t always feel this way. I would tell myself that my feelings were not as unnatural as I was convinced they were and that there was joy to be had being a mom. I would have told myself not to beat myself up for not feeling it yet.
Mother’s Day is different for me now. Having my rambunctious three year old running around and my ever-smiling one year old crawling at my feet, I feel so far removed from the sad woman who tried to ‘celebrate’ that first Mother’s Day.
Motherhood is hard at the best of times, and in the early days of dealing with a colicky and fussy baby, it can be hard, if not impossible to find joy when there isn’t a lot to feel joy about. It hit me like a ton of bricks that Mother’s Day that, at that point, I didn’t feel like much of a mother. I hadn’t felt like I had done very much ‘mothering’ at all.
But I had. I had held my baby when she cried (which was all. the. time.). I had fed her and clothed her and taken care of her. Even though I hadn’t emotionally felt like a mom yet, the fact I was a mom and felt it deep down was evident in the actions I took every second of her life up until that point.
Happy Mother’s Day to every mother reading our blog. Whether you are in the early days of motherhood and handling a fussy or colicky baby, or have other children to deal with while also handling a colicky baby, or if you have older spirited kids, or if you got through colic in the past, or if you just face every normal everyday challenges we as mothers face raising our children, Happy Mother’s Day.
It’s a tough job, often thankless, and sometimes with few tangible rewards.
But once you get through the early days, once you can see evidence of your efforts, even in small ways, in the people your children become, you will see and really know and realize that you deserve to be celebrated and honoured.
I honour all mothers today.
Have a wonderful Mother’s Day.
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