83 weeks ago, I gave birth to a beautiful human being that would be become the most important person in my life. To make sense of it, I have been someone’s mother for about 568 days now. I still remember that day like it was yesterday. I feel like a part of me did not really comprehend what was about to happen as I walked into that hospital room. I was 4cm dilated at 38 weeks, and as much as the bag was packed and we were ready to welcome her into the world, I was not mentally prepared. I get asked the question of whether or not I was scared at that time, and my response is always a consistent “no”. This is due to the fact that I was having a bit of an out of body experience. I casually went through the labor process. This is why I cried like a baby when I held my baby in my arms. Only at that point did I realize what all of this meant. I was a mother now. Now I knew love and I held it in my arms.
Nothing could have ever prepared me for that moment, or the coming months. The first three months of my daughter’s life were the most stressful. I was hungry, dirty, sleep deprived, angry, lonely, anxious and absolutely scared. I remember staying with her all alone at about 3 weeks and I cried every time she did. I never understood why she cried the way she did. I would check her diaper, her temperature, feed her, hold her, but she would not stop crying. And neither would I.
That was the defining moment where I felt the void of not having my mother around. I have always missed her, but not as much as I would during those first few weeks of being a mother. I would constantly wonder how much more bearable this process would be if my own mother was around. She would be by my side and guiding me through motherhood. I felt an aching pain in my heart at the thought of my late mother.
Don’t get me wrong, I was surrounded by people that loved and cared for me. My husband’s mother was a big pillar of strength for us and played an important role in my parenting journey. She guided me through this process a lot. But nothing can ever replace the bond and love of a mother.
One of the biggest lessons I learned from my late mother is the power of pen and paper. My mother loved reading and writing, and she passed that same passion for writing to her two daughters. My sister, like myself, loves writing. She does it in her personal space, keeping a diary for her personal consumption. Like our mom, we have always used writing as our outlet, whether we have had a terrible day, or just overwhelmed with emotion, we wrote about it.
After my daughter’s birth, I found myself drowning in pain and loneliness until I turned to the internet. It became my source of comfort. I would later learn that I was not alone. I was on the verge of going crazy when I learned that it’s normal to go for two days without taking a proper bath. I was smelling of spit up at this point and would be reading of how other moms would sit in that same shirt for days on end. My daughter had reflux and would spit up her milk after every feed.
That was my turning point and the beginning of my blogging journey. I got to understand that we share similar journeys as parents and its okay. It is absolutely okay to break down and cry because you don’t know what you are doing. It is also okay to leave the house for a few minutes to breathe when you don’t know how to help your child. My biggest lesson was also learning that it is okay to not be a perfect parent.
I am a strong believer in the power of feeling stories. As human beings, we draw strength from the stories of other people. It always brings me a sense of comfort to know that I do not go through things alone, or that I am not going crazy when I cry after I leave my daughter in the house with her nanny. Knowing that other moms experience separation anxiety reassures me that I will be okay and I am not being dramatic. This is why I openly share my experiences because I understand and thoroughly comprehend the impact I potentially have on others who are feeling the same way but are ashamed and confused by their feelings.
My queen mother departed this world when I was 15, almost 16 years of age. I battled with her death for as long as I can remember. I was in Grade 11 when she passed. I always had dreams of becoming a lawyer when I grew up, but those dreams quickly turned into unattainable goals after her burial. I buried them along with her. Now, my daughter has helped me unearth the dream of touching people’s lives. I may not be defending people in court, but every day I tell my story to make moms feel less alone and ashamed of the parenting challenges they are facing.
For me, the internet was full of perfect parents, and I wanted to play my part in changing this. I identified most with the mom that was honest enough to share a picture with eye bags because they have not slept for a few hours.
I wanted to share the complexities and beauty of motherhood. I also wanted to tell the story from the perspective of a 26-year old black mother. Our country is one of the most diverse in the world, and we need to embrace our diversity and not shy away from it. This means that even the way we raise our children is not completely the same. For example, if my daughter did not sleep the whole night, her grandparents would probably say she was picking up some bad spirits in the yard during the night. Another family would advise the parents that the baby was probably gassy. There is so much beauty in this very difference because this is what defines us as people. There is so much beauty and unity in diversity. This starts in our understanding and talking about these differences without fear of being judged or persecuted. This is the world I dreamt of when I started my blog. A world where we can have comfortable conversations about our parenting journeys, regardless of how different they are.
Parenting still remains, to this day, one of the hardest things I have ever done. Would I turn back the hands of time and go back to planning my wedding and traveling the world child-free? Definitely not. I bask in the beauty of knowing that I am strong. Strong enough to have carried and birthed a child, and still strong enough to continue loving her unconditionally.
I want to continue telling that very story to women who might be scared to even attempt to be with child, or feel that they are not ready to be mothers. I too was scared, and if I can do it, I believe that anyone can.