Last Friday 9th November marked Zac’s first birthday which is just downright mind-boggling to me. I’m trying to embrace the rapid speed of time as much as possible, and just love/appreciate every second for what it is rather than constantly tell myself that there’s not enough time. It’s an ongoing practice, that’s for sure. It has been the most sensational first year of motherhood, so transformative and my biggest learning curve. I believe that children teach us adults far more than we ever teach them, and here are some of the lessons that Zac & motherhood have taught me (or deepened prior beliefs) in this first year.
I never really thought about this or expected this before having Zac but it is so painful. In every element. I guess pregnancy kind of prepares you for it in a sense but it multiplies once they arrive and are in your arms. It’s painful physically, emotionally, mentally, soulfully. The physical pain is easier to comprehend; sore arms & back from carrying him, sore face from smiling and laughing so much & sore eyes from exhaustion, for example. It’s the emotional, mental & soul/spiritual side that is the hardest to wrap my head around. The pure exhilarating joy can feel so painful & heavy somedays that I can cry from just watching him play with sand at the beach, or when I sing him a lullaby at bedtime. What is that?! But the pain brings more beauty, meaning & appreciation. It’s taught me to not avoid the pain, but to really feel it. For that I'm so grateful.
Appreciation > Expectation
This is something that has helped me immensely in this first year of motherhood. It’s something I’d try to emulate before having Zac but has since become even more important. Of course there are days that just don’t flow & can have an aura of frustration around them and these kind of days really intensify when a baby is involved. Whenever I start to feel frustration or a lack of patience, I know it stems from my sometimes very high (possibly unattainable) expectations of the day. I heard the phrase ‘appreciated over expectation’ from Tony Robbins being interviewed on a podcast and it’s simplicity really resonated with me and was such a great reminder. Now whenever I start to feel like everything is getting on top of me, I say ‘appreciation over my expectations’ over and over to myself and it helps instantly.
Embrace uncertainty & chaos
We’ve heard it many many times, but there’s so much truth in it; there’s no perfect formula for raising a baby! It’s easy to describe it as messy, fascinating, magical, exciting & exhausting…but it’s different for everyone. What works for one person will be drastically different for what works for another. There are so many moments of uncertainty & pure chaos throughout the day-to-day. It’s pretty much impossible trying to juggle it all, so I’ve learnt (well, still learning) to embrace the chaos & uncertainty and to allow myself to wallow in it’s wonderfully infinite potential. When I practice this, our day-to-day life seems to unfold with a lot more ease, even if the chaos & uncertainty still surrounds us.
Health is everything
Since having Zac, I’ve felt a bigger responsibility to prioritise my health in every form. Physical health is one element so I make sure we try to start the day with a beach walk. I can hardly put into words how much I love this part of our day, it gives us life! I’ll also do a barre class 2x a week at Xtend Barre in Mona Vale. It can be a little difficult trying to fit it around times when Zac is going to be looked after (there’s no creche) but it’s the only ever workout class that I truly look forward to doing, and it generates more energy & brings more clarity to my day.
As for mental health, that is a whole other ballgame and one that I’ve been digging into. I’ve been regularly meditating over the past two or so months and I’m blown away by how much of a difference it has made to my overall mindset throughout the day. Just the simple act of taking time to be still & to simply focus on the basic task of breathing has started to bring a sense of calmness, purpose & mindfulness to everything we do. It feels like a form of magic.
Life is a miracle & a mystery
This is the first ever time that this perfect little human being has existed…that one thought just gives me goosebumps. Even though human kind have been reproducing for longer than my brain can articulate, there is nothing like it when you have your own. Life truly is a miracle and the biggest mystery and becoming a mum has taught me to often ponder some of life’s big questions. Questions like; What’s the purpose of human experience? What is my purpose in life? What is god? Is there a god? What is happiness What does all this mean? How do we live an extraordinary life? They’re all quite deep & heavy…not your usual smalltalk, but I find them so fascinating. Above everything, becoming a mum has made me try and bring a sense of deeper meaning, purpose and reverence to life, and to embrace all of its wonderful mysteries.
The Power of Now
I’ve not read Eckhart Tolle’s Power of Now yet, but I feel like children can be the most wonderful teachers when it comes to living in the present moment. Seeing Zac marvel at the simplest of things brings me down to his level of consciousness which makes me want to appreciate every tiny moment and see the world through his eyes. It’s taught me to try and live life in a permanent state of alertness, eyes wide open, making sure to take everything in. When I do this, it helps to make me not worry about the speed at which life is moving because I don’t get to the end of the day and wonder how the time seemed to pass without my awareness.
Previously when I’d hear parents say that they can hardly remember life before their babies, I thought they were being dramatic. But oh my goodness it really does happen, especially in this early phase of parenthood (I’m guessing?) when you’re needed for everything and it’s hard to remember what you ever did before. It truly is hard to wrap your head around the fact that you ever lived without them. When I think back to when I would visualise having children (before I was even pregnant), it feels like I would dream of having a baby exactly like Zac. So on somedays, it feels like he’s always been here which makes it really hard to imagine our lives without him…don’t worry, I know it sounds crazy haha. All this being said, I’ve learnt that it’s important to remind myself that there was a me before, and even though I’ve morphed into a 2.0 version, its beneficial for our family that I take time to focus on the things that speak to my soul, beyond motherhood.
It get’s even better
In the first couple of weeks after Zac was born, I would mourn the end of every day because I just wanted him to be a tiny newborn forever. The idea of him growing another day older would break my heart and made me want to invent a time machine. There is something so so special about those early weeks with your baby, but the best thing is that it gets even better. With every new day, week, month you get to learn something new about your baby and see their personalities start to shine through…it’s the greatest gift in the world. I actually need to keep reminding myself this as I felt so melancholy after he turned one last week. After asking if this was normal, my beautiful friend Lou wrote to me and said “Yes! Birthdays are bittersweet. Every year that passes has much greater poignancy and a sense that something has been lost as well as found”. What a wonderful way to look at it, while we might be losing something, we are actually gaining something even better.
I feel like this list could go on and on because it seems like every single day presents some with a new meaningful lesson. And since I’m only one year into this motherhood gig, I’m so excited to welcome all the lessons to come throughout the years. What an adventure!