Happiness, though I have heard it a thousand times and agreed or dismissed it, is NOT a destination. I had to learn it for myself. It is a decision, and we all have that decision to make. After resigning to the fact that I was going to say home with my firstborn, at least for the first year, I decided that I was going to uncover happiness. With God by my side, it was possible, and it was what my family deserved. It’s what we all deserve. I decided to attack staying home with similar methods I used in the past to establish and maintain a successful career. I began to develop a plan of how this could work for me in my new career as a Stay at Home Mom. Though I wanted to quit, I persevered through Mommy and Me Yoga. My baby was one of two babies in the class, out of maybe 12 total, who required constant bouncing and lifting throughout the hour twice a week. She was loving and smiley, but she was born to rock, so as I watched in complete awe as the other babies lay content on the mat looking at one another and up at the mommies, I held my mine in various poses and never kept still for more than a brief moment. We attended 10am movies for Moms at the local theater. I was the one walking the aisles gently rocking with my baby while most others held their sleeping babies or nursed while watching recent releases in dimmer than usual sound. But I kept on.
At home, I set up play stations and baby “tool boxes” and a schedule and recorded everything. I had nap time and nighttime routines perfectly timed. To keep company during nap time, I watched an ongoing cooking channel and the regular chefs became familiar and friendly faces. I made lists, even crazy ones, such as items in my fridge for easier meal planning. I began to write. I kept a daily journal of my daughter’s first year so she’d have it to cherish as an adult. I wrote everyday to my daughter- my thoughts and feelings about the joy she brings to my heart, despite any challenges of having a newborn. I wrote honestly because I wanted her to relate if she was ever bestowed the blessing of motherhood. I set up photo shoots with various backdrops and made photo book after photo book, documenting our days together. I wrote of our experiences and celebrated all her very firsts. I loved my baby from the moment I started praying for her conception, but now I had fallen, all in… hopelessly, endlessly devoted. It was a love I have never experienced, one I have always pushed away- my heart living outside of me. It scared me to death, but I took it as it came with baby steps, and slowly allowed myself to be needed and truly loved.
As she grew, our adventures were great- weekly story time at the library and the local bookstore, playgroups and playdates with other Moms we just met and friends I knew pre-motherhood. We explored every park and children’s museum from Greensboro to Raleigh and enjoyed picnic lunches. I hosted play dates when it was cold. We joined baby gym classes and baby music classes. We played dress up. We finger-painted. We made sticker books. We repeatedly played with children my daughter’s age- especially ones that came with a fun Mom for me to chat with. We ventured to the grocery shops I really loved- the ones out of town with whole foods and natural ingredients that took up the whole morning until nap time. It was refreshing to meet Moms who would talk about their lives, and not just feedings, naps, and other baby talk. As my daughter and I became great explorers, we found ourselves in various amazing groups of women and children, a Sisterhood was forming. My daughter was fully on board. Even before my daughter learned to talk, she would put her shoes by the door cueing me to “Let’s Go!” Every time I put her in or took her out of the car seat, she would give an enthusiastic smile when our eyes met. She had zest for living and it was contagious.
While this amazing Sisterhood was forming, I would catch glimpses of what some people title Battle of the Moms. Of course I would hear judgements Moms would make about one another. I listened but never got involved. When you don’t fuel a fire, it dissipates. I suppose in growing up with my nonjudgmental mother as a model, as a middle sister with many siblings who each had their own opinion, and in my journey of coming to accept myself, I have learned to quietly engage a gentle attitude and acceptance of one another. The Sisterhood that was forming was a group of Moms who could share feelings and experiences of early motherhood- the challenges of leaving work or experiences of maintaining work and finding a balance. It was one of acceptance and love. As this Sisterhood shared openly, I began to breath more deeply than ever. I felt the postpartum cloud lift and began to live happily- truly and completely.
It was early spring and the chill was still in the air but the sun was beaming it’s golden rays. My daughter and I drove the mile to our quaint and very little downtown area. We took a walk through the garden of flowering blooms and watched the college kids at our town university move from building to building. They paused to share smiles with my daughter- the oohs and awes were priceless and my heart warmed. We crossed the street and found a local frozen yogurt store that served a dairy-free selection with fun toppings (heaven for my little one with a milk allergy). We ate at a child-sized table and colored on the doodle sheets with the bucket of crayons that the shop provided. We popped into a boutique shop where the sister of the store owner instantly engaged us in a non-pushy sales way. I tried on my first pair of high dollar jeans since high school- something one of my new and very practical Sisterhood gals recommended- THEY FEEL LIKE SWEATPANTS BUT THEY MAKE YOUR BUTT LOOK REALLY GOOD, she shared often. I tabled the jeans for later (but side note- once I gave in, I will never go back!) and found an urban-ish looking dress on sale and bought it. I now had the perfect outfit to wear that weekend when my husband and I celebrated our third anniversary. The perfect dress, an incredible husband, and oh… my “perfect” life. Never would I have expected and never would I have known, and never would I have experienced this beautiful life if I hadn’t trusted in God’s plan for me.
My prayers shifted from pleas to prayers of thanksgiving and joy. Nothing truly got easier, but in sharing life with the gift of Sisterhood, my baby and other Moms and their babies, and being open to small town living and the new reality of being a stay-at-home Mom… well, it was more than I could have ever hoped for.
I now have a Facebook page to feature my personal blog, Sisterhood. Click below or copy and paste in your browser to receive new posts. facebook.com/buildingsisterhood OR visit buildingsisterhood.blogspot.com for direct access to the blog.