I’ve written here before about being reorganized by motherhood – about the profound and difficult transition from a former life to a new one that came with my entry into parenthood.
Like most people, before I had a baby, I’d heard the phrase a thousand times, “You can’t imagine how much your life will change when you become a parent.”
Not only could I not imagine it, I couldn’t even locate what they were talking about. I’d lived a largely autonomous life before, where my plans and desires shaped my future. I didn’t know what it was to be changed in ways I didn’t foresee or choose.
Now, I look in the mirror and see a body and face altered, worn by the daily intensity of the past few years. I know those skin-deep changes are a metaphor: minute by minute, caring for a little person, I’ve been changed, gradually but significantly.
And here I am, two and a half years into motherhood, and three and a half years into the changed life that began even earlier, with a body overtaken by pregnancy.
On the one hand, I am still being rewoven, reorganized by motherhood. On the other hand, something has settled. The feeling of turmoil around that reorganization has quieted. The feeling of the old me being pulled and kneaded into something new has diminished. The weather in my emotional and mental sky feels less foggy, more serene and consistent. And WE ARE ALL SLEEPING THROUGH THE NIGHT now. Hallelujah.
It was a few years of crossing a long bridge to get here, but now I’m here, on the other side: a mother. A parent. One who has in some strange way been removed from the center of the circle, to become one who nourishes the circle, who stands shoulder to shoulder with others, along the perimeter, to give life to what is now being grown in the center.
Still me but a different me.
And just as things are starting to feel a little calmer, we are about to turn everything upside down again, with a new baby coming in December.
Last night, there I was, walking up the stairs to our front door, feeling the curve and bounce of my growing belly. I was so happy to get home, to see the exuberant toddler I’d missed all day, to hear his sprint to the door, and to meet the face of my husband – the face that after almost twenty (oh my god) years, still grounds me and makes everything in me sigh when I see it. That face that says and means, home.
In this chapter of my life, the blessings of family life feel immense. Our routine is working. I’m on this side of the bridge, on land again. And I am falling more and more in love with this little boy who has given me the gift of an expanded heart.
I could still cry at some of what has been lost. Even in this moment of gratitude for what is, I could cry about it. Not sadness exactly, just change, just emotion, just the intensity of life.
But mostly I just feel like watching, watching all the beauty that is here before me now.
photo credit: Jens Johnsson
Join the discussion 43 Comments
What a beautiful description of the profound and shared experience of motherhood and impending motherhood. Thank you!
Thank you- a beautiful reminder of how important our children are in helping us grow and become better human beings with each passing moment.
If you haven’t already read Dr. Shefali Tsabary’s work- The Concious Parent, The Awakened Family and Out of Control- why discipline doesn’t work and what will- I highly recommend them for reaching new heights in parenting.
It’s like you are reading my mind. We also have a toddler boy with one on the way in December. Thank you for putting into words what I have been processing and wrapping my head around. This was such a lovely essay to read this morning.
Wow, I just loved this post, I’m 39 and 15 weeks pregnant with my first child. My life has always been based on whatever adventure or dream I wanted to follow and this inability to locate what people are talking about when they say how much my life will change is at times deeply unsettling and at others intensely exciting. I have a feeling this will be the ultimate adventure after all. It’s so comforting to read these words of yours, thank you Tara.
Congratulations, mama!!! Beautiful, poignant writing on a topic that defies words. XOX
Congratulations on the new pregnancy Tara Sophia! Thanks for sharing so honestly about the intensity of new motherhood. I am a mom to a toddler myself (a single mom) and I can totally relate. Kudos to you for still taking on baby #2! I am 35 now and contemplating freezing my eggs in case I do want to give my little one a sibling this time hopefully with a more responsible partner and/or co-parent.
Well said, Tara!! Congratulations on your second (upcoming) child! When you are dealing with that second impact, I know we will all benefit from your remarkable ability to put life experiences into intelligent down-to-earth reflections that (for once) don’t smack of idealistic cliches. Thank you for creating a profound conversation about what it means to be a thoughtful, awake woman.
So beautifuly said! I can deeply relate to this post though our baby daughter has already been with us for 5 months. Our toddler adapted so well and our family feels complete. Congratulations on your pregnancy!
So true Tara. This whole post is what the childless, and even some parents who work outside the home, don’t understand. Its a life change which you will never be able to stop and go back to ‘normal life’ i.e. pre children. Your ‘normal life’ eventually becomes that of a parent.
I was talking to a father in the school playground yesterday. He has two older children and a new baby. His wife wanted to work part time so he shares the care of the new baby as he works part time too.
He said ‘now I understand why she wanted to go back to work. It is so hard. I am so lonely and overworked with the baby.’
I said, ‘I know what you mean. As a stay at home parent, you don’t get coffee or lunch breaks. You don’t get to talk to another adult. You don’t get to even go to the toilet alone and in private.’
It was a nice conversation and I am glad to have talked to a man who is in that situation. So many mothers are left at home while the father gets to go out, talk to other adults, have a life.
HOW DID YOU GET TO YOUR BABY SLEEPING THROUGH THE NIGHT? ? I have read your post just now sitting next to my 17 mths old son who takes about an hour every night to fall asleep, and then wakes me up 2-5 times per night …. I can so relate to everything you wrote, but what has been the most excruciating in my experience – really like torture – has been the disturbed sleep. I am 36 now and a free lance coach / yoga teacher and am craving to go back to work – which i will soon, yay! – but I can’t help but feel discouraged at the thought of continued exhaustion if the nights don’t get better. people tell me it will better but then some people have kids up to 5-6 years old not sleeping through the night you know!! Well anyways – you are so right in that there is no way you can imagine how things will change before you have a child!
Thank you, Tara. I was kind of waiting for a post like this one – we need more women who can put into words what we feel and go through. Becoming a mother is an initiation we almost face alone – there isn’t much support in our culture for this transition.
I also have to kids and it wasn’t as easy with second one as I imagined (after the first one I thought many times “why hasn’t anyone told me”) but I still feel grateful and blessed. Also I hope that the effort and devotion that we as parents give will be truly recognized and valued by society and ourselves.
All the best to you and your family.
Thank you Tara. You have expressed this beautifully and brought a tear to my eye. I am blessed to have 3 young children but rarely stop to reflect how life has changed! Thank you for sharing X
my second son headed to college this month…empty nest…another transition for us moms! enjoy every moment because they go by in the blink of the eye…truly they do xo jenifer
Wow, Tara – how is it that your articles always arrive in my inbox at the exact moment I need them, on the exact topic I’m struggling with! Thank you for this one – it touches on a sensitive spot for me right now. After having my first child almost two years ago we are contemplating another, meanwhile the internal ‘identity upheaval’ I experienced over the past couple of years is finally starting to settle down. While I would love to have another child it’s hard to walk headfirst back into that place. I can only hope that everything I’ve learned about balance and finding the true ‘me’ within my roles as mother, wife and professional woman will put me in good stead to handle it better the next time around. I’d love to read more of your thoughts on this – I don’t think any other writer in your field is really addressing this challenge, and it’s such a common one.
All the best with your pregnancy and thanks again for the words of wisdom x
I share your profound acknowledgment of the changes becoming a mother and add the complete 180 that had to take place when my second was born. Three years after my first child my second taught me I didn’t know squat about being a mother to her. The youngest is now six and I’m enjoying the calm and dare say balance before my oldest hit her teens.
Dear Tara, how wonderful to read your words and feel the depth and intensity of your process. I’m ever so thankful to tell you I can wholeheartedly relate to what you describe, with every inch and fibre of my being embracing your words in understanding and empathy. Bless you lady, for sharing all this and inviting us to touch upon our own miraculous initiation into Life and the transformation parenthood, motherhood offers us. <3
Dear Tara, how wonderful to read your words and feel the depth and intensity of your process. I’m ever so thankful to tell you I can wholeheartedly relate to what you describe, with every inch and fibre of my being embracing your words in understanding and empathy. Bless you lady, for sharing all this and inviting us to touch upon our own miraculous initiation into Life and the transformation parenthood, motherhood offers us. <3 Warmly, Aya
First off, Congratulations! Reading you’re post sounds almost exactly like my world right now. (17 years with my husband, 2.5 yr toddler, and finally another on the way.) We’ve struggled for many years with infertility and 1 miscarriage. I can totally appreciate how motherhood reorganizes things but at the same time, I’m ready for it again. Aren’t we just insane? 🙂 Thankfully, our career has given the luxury to afford all these treatments without any financial stress. Work has been good to me lately but it will have to be put on pause once again. When I come back from maternity leave, I’ll come back ready to take it on again. I like to think of life vs. work as a constant harmonization process. It’s not always 50/50, there’s times when you sways more than others. We’re ready for it!
Tara, for those of us who could never feel the “curve and bounce of a growing belly” – and who may have, like me, gone through a pain-full, long, expensive (and ultimately unfulfilled) attempt at adoption- I want to gently let you know that I’m feeling more distance from you and your messages lately. I carry a grief that – like other griefs – moves to the background and then – with some comment or scene that appears – jumps out and hits me in the heart. I’m happy for you, and grateful to you and other mothers who will (hopefully) raise good, enlightened new humans – but I once again feel excluded from a role that I had always expected would be a major part of my life, and I’m probably going to back away from reading your messages as I sometimes have had to avoid other pregnancy/motherhood focused writers. I don’t mean to be a downer, but I’ve been grateful for your thoughts and honesty in the past, and as a Friend (albeit one you’ve never met), I just want to be honest and offer a perspective that you may not have considered as you share this part of your life. Or perhaps you’ve written about this and I’ve just missed it – if so, my apologies, and please tell me where I can read what you’ve said. With respect and gratitude and good wishes toward you and your family – A.
Beautifully spoken. I love “removed from the center of the circle, to become one who nourishes the circle”. My daughter is now 20. I cherish every moment. So glad you are sleeping through the night and are resting up for December.All the best.
Wow. Very happy for you, Tara. This wise, new Spirit picked the right nest. 🙂
You are a beautiful testament to the beauty and richness of family. How it removes our self-centeredness and enriches our lives profoundly. Thank you for sharing!
Intensely touching and a beautiful insight Tara. My life has been so fulfilling as a mother of 2 adopted daughters from Korea, each since a few months of age now 27, and 24. Today, I now care for my 10 year old grandson- and that one brings an additional bursting forth of love unimaginable! Still, at 58 there is more I would like to do, and I could cry for those additional things I would like to gain!
Lovely, Tara! Congratulations on the impending arrival of baby! For me, going from 0-1 was the most difficult challenge, and the subsequent additions to the family weren’t nearly as challenging. You’ve got this!
I do not know you but I thank you for your gracious and respectful statement of your feelings. While I am not exactly in the same boat as you are, but I am a single woman with no immediate prospects for marriage and/or children navigating a predominantly couple/family-centric society which has its own share of challenges. We all have the responsibility to protect and nourish our hearts as best as we can when life does not quite unfold as we would desire. I respect how you have communicated where you are coming from here and I thank you for modeling this with sensitivity all the while being able to wish Ms. Mohr well. Namaste and best wishes.
Beautiful Tara, thank you so much. I love how you write about your expanded heart, it resonates as my three girls definitely have been my heart openers in a way I could never have imagined before. I love your honesty and authenticity,please give us more and more. Thank you again. Love Josine
Thank you for the gift of your prose. With your heartfelt words, I feel as if we’re old friends, and this is a letter you’ve written me. Congratulations on the soon to be addition to your lovely family.
Yes. Just yes.
And congratulations, Tara! I’m thrilled for you and E.
Thank you so much, Andrea, for taking the time to share your perspective and experience here. I’m so glad you did.
Quite honestly- writing about this topic is tricky territory for me. Motherhood is a huge part of my personal experience right now – not just in terms of time, but in terms of what I’m learning, how I’m growing, the edges I’m coming up against in myself, and the changing ways I experience the world. I know that when I write about it it is not relevant to everyone who signed up to subscribe here, and that’s caused me to write about it less frequently than I otherwise would. Yet I also know that as a writer, an artist and fellow traveler on the human journey I can’t skip over what is actually happening in my life – both because it is the authenticity here that readers here have always connected to, and because writing about what is “up” for me is what makes writing worthwhile to me.
So where I’m am now is to write about motherhood sometimes, fairly infrequently. Not sure how that will evolve going forward. Again thank you for sharing your experience with us. Hugs, Tara
on my list Sarah!
I’m so glad, Amelia.
It’s just crazy Caroline!! And it begins with the pregnancy!
Thank you, Elizabeth!
Couldn’t agree more, Catherine.
Marie – send us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll share more about what we did. It required me trusting myself and letting go of every single should our culture tells us about kid sleep.
Okay, that sounds a little daunting! 🙂
I know – it’s such an initiation. That’s really the right word.
I feel that way about my readers too! xo
Yes, the sways and the integration…things I’m thinking about a lot lately.
Thank you Aya! So touched by your words.
So interesting Shelley!
Thank you, Idara, I am grateful that you took the time to respond here – and to share your wisdom about protecting and nourishing our hearts as best we can when faced with things not unfolding as hoped. Beautifully said. You made me feel better – and I wish you all good things as your life continues to unfold. Blessings to you, and gratitude once again – A.
Thank you, Tara. I completely understand that you must write from the heart about what is most important to you at any given time. I also agree with Idara, though, about the family-centric/couple-centric society we live in, and how easy it is for non-mothers to feel pretty left-out sometimes – even when we are doing our best to be good, contributing members of the “villages” it takes to raise the children around us.
It’s just more of a challenge – and I’m rising to it, and knowing in my heart that the things I’m doing for the children in my life are important – even if my role is different from, and harder to “brag about”, than is mothering. I appreciate your hearing me out and giving me the opportunity to share my perspective. Bottom line: Mothers, I appreciate you – and I also encourage you to appreciate the “aunties” and volunteers and co-workers who may not be mothers themselves, but who are playing important roles in supporting you and your families ;o) Thanks again, Tara. – A.
Your words felt like my own. Especially because we must be on the same timeline with our children. I coach new moms and will absolutely be sharing this poignant piece with them. Thank you thank you for sharing.