There are only a few days left of this year. In less than a week, we’ll be traveling to Europe as a family of 3 for the first time. In 2 weeks, our daughter will be 20 months old. Lots of firsts, lasts, new beginnings and old endings coming up. It’s a good opportunity to take time and look back. Many don’t believe in looking backwards. I believe in reflecting and reviewing, just long enough to gain insight and wisdom to take into the present and the future.
While walking through a cute little gift shop recently, I saw a gag gift thing that said: “this isn’t the lifestyle I ordered”. In an uninhibited moment and before being really aware of my thoughts, I found myself chuckling and saying “no shit!” under my breath.
WHAT? What did you just say? You, who struggled and fought and battled against biology and nature to become a mom? You of all people? You don’t think THIS is the life you ordered?
I was so shocked that in an unguarded moment, I had apparently expressed some discontent about my present life to my own self. How dare I feel like this life isn’t all that I had wished for and all that I wanted! How dare I be ungrateful and whiny and anything less that blissful?! I felt disgust.
And yet, here I was—feeling my feelings.
I had pictured a much rosier existence than this before having my child. I had overestimated my own capabilities and circumstances. I had imagined our days filled with activities, play dates and family times. I had imagined a big beautiful “village” to raise my daughter in. I had imagined a constant stream of “Aunties” visiting us and big fun parties we would be invited to. I had imagined my daughter, surrounded by lots of people, fun and kids of all ages.
Life–real life–isn’t like any of that. We spend most days by ourselves, just me and my daughter. There are no regular visitors, no frequent play dates. And family time has been scarce, due to the demands of the modern American work ethics and other professional obligations. Not many parties, either. No Aunties visiting regularly or asking to have lunch with an adorable mother-daughter duo. Life is quiet. And frankly, it’s often a little lonely. This isn’t a complaint or a passive aggressive way to try to get people to do or be anything or anyone other than they are. It’s just an honest description of my expectations as opposed to how life really is.
This year has taught me a lot and I take every hard-earned bit of wisdom gained with me as I move forward and begin my 3rd year of motherhood.
I now know that loneliness doesn’t suddenly evaporate once you have children. I now know that no matter how much you love your child, you cannot live cocooned inside your mother and child ideal forever. I now know that I cannot wait for my expectations to materialize, because I might be waiting forever. I now know that, no matter how much I wish for things to go a specific way, there’s no guarantee that they’ll go that way at all—ever. I now know that spending any amount of time being disappointed about things I have no control over is a huge waste of time. I now know that I don’t want to keep trying to fit in when it’s clear that I never will. I now know that to be with my daughter and to watch her grow and blossom into a little individual being is the grandest of all things and perfect, even when there’s no one else to witness it. I now know that I’m no longer that person who sits and waits for someone to come and take me out of my loneliness. I now know that real life can be lovelier, more joyful and more awe-inspiring than any ideal viewed through a pair of rose-colored glasses, if you’re willing and open to accept it, just as it is.
I am still adjusting to motherhood, I admit it. I am still negotiating things that might be second nature to others who’ve been moms as long as me. And this used to stress me out and keep me up at night. But, what I’ve learned from watching my daughter is that we each evolve and unfold at our own pace. We stall at points and excel at others. And that’s okay. And I’m okay.
After the last 365 days, this I know: I am on a once-in-blue-moon, one-of-a-kind journey. I do not need it to go any way other than how it is going. I don’t wish it to change or be something other than what it is. And I don’t need anyone or anything to make it better or more perfect. Because it is grand and it is perfect, just as it is. And no one else can do what I am doing any better. This is my path and this is my life.
Happy holidays to you all.