My friend Diane and her husband diligently prepared and carefully planned for their new baby, and it’s been a joy watching them both blossom as parents. Diane shared this touching post on Facebook and allowed me to share it here as well.
I’ve been thinking a lot about seasons lately. My son and I have walked by this tree dozens of times in my postpartum, and as the leaves start changing I reflect back on the last 9 weeks with my late summer baby. The idea of seasons of parenthood is one I often discussed with my postpartum doula clients when they were unhappy with how things were going, and I find it useful for myself now. The emotional aspect of mothering has been overwhelming for me, and I find myself slipping into all-or-nothing, life-will-always-be-this-way thought patterns. Thought patterns that lead me to thinking that if I cannot mother this child perfectly, there is no point in mothering him at all, and I never should have become a mother in the first place.
Today, for example, I drove an extra half hour so that he would keep napping. This was something that before becoming a parent I swore I would never do; I found the carbon footprint and cost in gas and mileage on my car to be too high, and it’s not that hard to get a baby to nap, right? Surely as a mother, I would have other, more green methods. Now, I know that the value of a well-napped baby is higher than gold and that sometimes my son will fight sleep like it’s his job. There are things I will find myself doing that I swore I never would, and that is okay. I try to remember that I will not always have to drive my baby to sleep. This is a season.
When the physical aspects of mothering, especially breastfeeding, get overwhelming, I cling to the idea that we are in an incredibly intense season of parenting. My son will not always nurse 18 times a day and scream with each diaper change unless “Five Little Monkeys” is sung on repeat. He will not always demand contact all through the night and large parts of the day. He will not always cry for no discernible reason. On the other hand, I will not always be able to fix the majority of his problems with a nipple and and a cuddle.
When my son was born, the leaves of this tree were full and green. Now, they are changing more every day to reds, oranges, and browns.
By the time the limbs of this tree we have walked by together are bare, my immediate postpartum will be over.
By the time it has buds sprouting, my once-newborn will be starting solids.
By the time its leaves change color again, I will have a one year old and will miss the quiet incessant hours of nursing my little baby, especially as I chase him around the house.
I keep breathing, he keeps changing. Some days are harder than others, and some are harder still. Remembering the transient nature of babyhood helps me survive my emotions during my emerging motherhood.
Diane Lee, PCD(DONA), CLEC, is a postpartum doula in Minneapolis, MN. She and her husband recently welcomed their first child.