Before I jump in, I just want to give a little disclaimer. A lot of this is what I took away from my first year of motherhood. Everyone has a different experience so mine is not going to be the same as every mother out there. My purpose is to simply write a vulnerable, transparent account of what I learned and the challenges I faced personally. I also hope this is encouraging to moms and if you aren't a mom, I hope this gives you an idea of how to love on the moms in your life. I also can't wait to look back on this in a few years and hopefully see how far I've come. Because this was a major year of learning and growing.
2017 gave us the most precious, sweet little gift that we could ever ask for, or son, Liam. Liam has been what people would call a pretty "easy baby." He was sleeping through the night at 10 weeks, was on a consistent schedule soon after, and is the most smiley, giggly little guy. But goodness gracious, that does not mean that it hasn't been hard. In fact, 2017 was probably the most challenging year of my entire life and it felt like I was constantly struggling through challenges. Don't get me wrong here. I'm not throwing a huge blanket of negativity on 2017 or having a baby. Challenges aren't necessarily a bad thing (even though they feel like it). Over the past year I've learned so much about myself because of these many, many challenges and while that hasn't been easy, it has been for my good and necessary. So I've written up a few of the main things I've learned this year. Some good, some hard.
I've got a huge control problem
I don't think you know you idolize control until all control is stripped away from you. So basically, have a baby and you'll know if that's a problem for you. Oh and hi, my name is Jessica and apparently control is a BIG DEAL for me. I never thought of myself as a "control freak" (my husband may have a different opinion) but this past year the sirens have gone off and I now realize that probably one of the reasons I never thought control was an issue was because I thought I had control of my life. I'm seriously giggling over here at that sentence and how ridiculous it is.
I thought I had control over my life - HA!
There is something that happens when you are a mom. It's like an evil version of yourself enters your body every time your kid wakes up from their nap early or they start screaming for no reason. At the drop of the hat, you are blood-boiling mad at one of the most innocent little humans simply because their schedule or attitude isn't the way you want it to be. Just me?
It quickly became apparent when Liam was born that I no longer had a say in what my day looked like. It was filled with feedings, diaper changes, attempting to sleep during nap times (hah!), washing bottles, cleaning spit up off my clothes (and everything else), doctors appointments...the list goes on. I began to realize that I used to rely on being able to control my day and have a routine. Without that, I felt totally out of control, and sometimes it would make me lose it. Like literally lose my mind.
Discovering this about myself was not easy. Some days it frustrated me to my core that I felt angry in a split second. BUT I am so confident that the reason for this challenge was so I could actually recognize and work through it. Because I apparently thought I had it on lock. I needed to be knocked down a notch and realize that routine and control shouldn't affect my attitude.
It has been the hardest lesson to learn, but the reality is that I am not in control of my life or my child or my health or what happens in my husband's life. In fact, someone better is in control of it. Someone that has my best interest in mind and knows past, present and future. Jesus knows what I need and what will make me a better version of myself. Some days that's the only thing that keeps me grounded through the craziness of being a mom. My life is not my own. It has taken some major adjusting. And if you are looking for a happy ending saying that I am totally cured of all my control freak-ness? Nope. Not even close, but I'm a work in progress.
Your true friends will stand by you
Just like with every life stage, becoming a mom has a tendency to create distance between others who don't have kids. I don't say this to make anyone feel guilty, but it has definitely made me so appreciative of the friends that have stuck by me this year.
Two of my very best friends had babies in 2017 and that has been the biggest blessing. I think everyone needs those friends they can vent to and be real with and not fear judgement and these ladies are definitely that. When we have playdates (which are honestly more for moms than they are the babies), it's a no judgement zone. Lord knows I have brought my share of crazy to the table and I have only left feeling encouraged and loved. The more I have gone through life, the more I realize that these kinds of friendships are so hard to come by. In all honesty, there have been parts of this year where I was a mess, and these ladies stood by me.
There have also been a couple of ladies who don't have kids that have not only loved me incredibly well, but also Liam. And goodness, y'all. The fact that they have pursued me and fought to be my friend this year truly does blow my mind. Before I had a kid I had zero clues what it was like to be a mom and the fact that I have kid-less friends around me who are willing to walk alongside me and love my family means the absolute world.
On the flip side, I have felt a lot of distance between some friends, but hear me say that while it is hard, it is 100% ok. There are different friends for different seasons and this is a new season for us. We are creating this new path with our little family and we would be naive to think that we would have the same friends through every stage of life. Yes, there are definitely the few that are life-long friends, but for the most part, it's not like that and it's ok.
I have a capacity
Kid-less Jessica was "say-yes-to-everything" Jessica. I was constantly meeting friends for coffee, dreaming up big photoshoots, planning recipes to shoot, running errands whenever I wanted, planning vacations for our family or trips to LA to see my brother, I was a busy bee. Once Liam was born, I quickly realized that I actually had a capacity. Shocker. I have to think about my family first and what is best for them and what I can actually handle since I'm juggling motherhood along with two businesses, a marriage, and friendships.
2017 was a year of scaling back, reassessing. and pursuing the things that matter or the things I truly love. It was a hard realization for me. Sometimes I think I thrive on being busy, but guys it was so good. Slowing down and saying no to some things was amazing for my soul and even for my creativity. I was able to take things in instead of pouring out so much. Even through the chaotic year of 2017 I felt like I had a little room to breath because I was giving myself boundaries.
So why do I even tell you all this?
For all you moms out there, if you are struggling with any of these things (or any other things), know that you are not alone. Motherhood is hard, figuring out relationships after baby is hard, readjusting to a new life is hard. Know that you are in good company, friend. You are normal and you are strong and you are able.
If you don't have a kiddo but have friends that do, love them. Texts, meals, coffee dates, cards, chocolate - literally anything - goes a long way. Motherhood can be a lonely road, so even the tiniest gesture can make a world of difference.
2017 was a heck of a year, y'all. While I'm so thankful for the learning experiences, I'm ready to grow from what we learned and dive into 2018. My word for this year is trust. It's the first word that came to mind when I was thinking about what I wanted 2018 to be about. I have tried to rely on my own strengths and control so many situations this year and failed so miserably. I want to look back on this coming year and tell a different story - a story of trusting the Lord and what his plans are for my life (even if it includes a child that won't nap).