New Mom, New Appreciation

By Kathryn M. D’Imperio

They always tell you life changes so much when you have kids. I think we all try to prepare ourselves to some extent, but no one really knows exactly what to expect until we find ourselves in the middle of it. From unexpected exploding diapers at the doctor’s office (with the diaper bag forgotten in the car) to juggling all the chores and stress of daily life – feedings, changes, grocery shopping, cooking dinner, our jobs, somehow finding time to exercise, shower – I can honestly say I no longer take the little things for granted. In fact, with only one child so far, I often find myself in awe of my own mother, having raised four children, and my grandmother with her five.

In my first year as a new mom, I’ve gained quite a bit of insight, shared in some wonderful experiences, and embraced a newfound appreciation for my own mom, my grandmothers, and other moms I know. Especially those with more than one child, and bless her heart, my mother-in-law, who survived raising three boys, each with a penchant for teasing and playful antics. (Luckily she now has three daughters-in-law to finally bring some balance!)

Being a mommy is a truly amazing thing – something I’ve always known I wanted to be. It is incredible and humbling to see the love and curiosity in our daughter’s eyes as she gazes upon us and to watch her grow and learn and change. In some ways, I feel as though my whole world has changed, yet in others, I feel like it’s a lot of the same things I love, only better and with more responsibility. It’s really a situation where no words can do justice to the emotion and sentiment of being a mom.

In the first few months after our baby arrived, many things seemed to take longer or occurred as though bundled with additional challenges – ensuring enough diapers and wipes were always on hand, finding the energy to make dinner, grocery shopping as a team of two…but now I feel like we have a pretty good rhythm. My little one will be a year old soon, and things are definitely getting easier with time.

I’m speaking for myself, of course. One of our good friends is currently expecting triplets! My husband and I occasionally think to ourselves, how in the world would we manage that? It’s three mouths to feed, diapers to change in triplicate, three times the laundry to scrub, three car seats to lug around – do they even make baby strollers for triple the fun? It’s hard to imagine the new mom emotions, stress, and “To Do” list multiplied by three. Still, as parents, you do anything that is required of you to ensure your children have all that they need, and a great life to boot. Triplets will be so much fun and completely adorable. We are so excited for our friend’s rapidly growing family, and admittedly, a little relieved to have just one-third of the feedings, diaper changes, and responsibilities to handle at the moment.

When I was born, my mom was younger than I am now. In my early childhood, my maternal grandmother watched me a lot of the time so my mom could work to make ends meet. I had a great time playing with my grandmother and we grew very close. I look back at all that my mom went through to give us a good life, and I am so thankful for all that she did – yet I’m also a bit sad that she ever had to sacrifice anything for me. Like her soaps so I could watch Inspector Gadget or her Sunday paper so I could have a Tootsie Pop. She taught me a lot of great things that I hope to share with my little girl (like working hard in life, sharing, patience…), not to mention traditions to carry on, and other life lessons that mean the most coming from one’s mom.

As my second Mother’s Day approaches, I am reminded of so many things to be thankful for in life – from the wisdom and close relationships I share with my mom, grandmother, stepmom, and mother-in-law, to my wonderful little family and our other relatives and friends. I am blessed with an amazing husband who makes my dreams come true and a precious daughter as cute as can be, whose smile and laughter light up my world, and of course, our smart and loving border collie, who is a great “big sister” to our baby daughter. And, whether chasing a dream or taking a leap of faith, I recently left my full-time job to raise my daughter and continue my writing and marketing endeavors. I guess the same theme runs strong regardless of individual situations – we will do anything for our children, to give them the best and most amazing lives possible.

Over the past 12 months, I’ve tried to absorb as much as knowledge as possible from the moms around me. Our family has made it through our fair share of craziness as any family does, and it’s only the beginning. Some days I feel the stress edging in as I realize how many things I need to accomplish, doing the math to discover I have about three to four hours (max) of naptime to get eight or more hours of work and errands done. (Those days I learn to be a little creative. And flexible.) Other days I feel like a superhero because of all the things I achieved “single-handedly” – sorting/washing/hanging up/putting away laundry, washing dishes, (safely) preparing meals, making homemade baby food, feeding the dog, playing with the dog outside, straightening up, shopping, running errands, writing articles and e-mails, and so much more. I say “single-handedly” not bragging, but because our daughter went through a phase of having to be held at all times. Yes, it can be exhausting, and yes, it’s probably against every parenting advice book ever written. And well, it probably did contribute to her bouts of separation anxiety that we are going through still to this day. But you know what? There is just something so endearing about such a little person loving you that much and wanting to be as close to you as possible, that I don’t mind one bit. In fact, I am sure I will miss it in about, oh, 14 years. Or sooner, I am told. Yikes.

When I was pregnant, I heard from so many friends and relatives about how much faster time flies once you start having kids. They weren’t kidding. I don’t know where the day goes half the time, let alone the weeks, months…I try to savor it all as much as I can, and we do take pictures and videos to help remember everything. My little girl celebrates her first birthday the week before Mother’s Day this year and it’s bound to be a fun-filled day of rubber duckies and everything yellow, two of her favorites.

As each year passes and Mother’s Day arrives on the heels of her birthday, I will continue to thank my lucky stars and my wonderful husband for the gift of our daughter – for while it is a truly special tradition to celebrate Mother’s Day with our cherished moms and grandmothers, it is an indescribable honor to celebrate Mother’s Day with a child of your own.

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