Guest post from Abby Theuring, the badass breastfeeder
The identity shift that we endure becoming parents can be overwhelming. We all expect that things will be different once a child arrives, but the most valuable areas of my personal growth were the things I had no idea were coming. Here are 6 surprises that have shaped my new life as a mother.
- My Body Works: Before kids I had a pretty mundane relationship with my body. I thought of it as mainly sexual and that’s what I used it for. Once I had kids I developed this intense doubt in the ability of my body to nourish my child. Then I learned that this was actually the reason my body was designed the way it was. And finally I developed a deep and powerful trust in my body. My relationship with my body has changed as much as my identity has changed becoming a mother.
- Responsibility Is Heavy: I’ve never liked the idea of death and I think I fear death more than most people. I’m convinced that my plane is going to crash, that my train is going to derail and that this bridge is going to collapse under my car. But now that I am a mother this fear takes on a whole new form. I no longer fear for the loss of my life, I fear for the future of my children without me. The weight of responsibility was evident from day 1 holding my first newborn son. What if something happens to me? What will happen to my children?
- Oh, The Big Feels: It’s totally cliché, but it’s for a reason. How can anyone know before becoming a parent that feelings could be this strong? Love, anger, worry, frustration, happiness; all of these feelings run so much deeper than ever before. And as a highly emotional person that’s really saying something. Self-care and healing have become vital to the survival of my family!
- Toddler Breastfeeding: If I had seen someone breastfeeding their 4-year-old before I had kids I would have thought it was downright gross and creepy. Seriously. Yet here I am, the breastfeeding mother of a 4-year-old boy, not to mention the baby too!
- Understanding My Own Parents: I have had my ups and downs with my own parents. Most of my life as a child and adolescent I saw them as gatekeepers, the ones who stood between me and the fun I wanted to have. As I became an adult I began to relate to them on a more mature level. I know they love me, but it’s not like it comes up much in conversation. Shortly after my first son was born I was up late with him. I remember sitting on the couch holding him, thinking the world of him and realizing that my parents had done the same with me. I sure never had that perspective before.
- Discovering True Strength: If you interviewed my pre-baby friends they would probably tell you all about how strong I am. I guess I would have agreed since I am pretty opinionated, goal-oriented and don’t like a lot of drama. But is that really strength? I don’t know, but I can tell you for sure that as a mother there is no question. Yes, I’m strong as hell, I’m a mother. I grew humans in my body, I delivered them through my body and then fed them with my body. I fought through a nightmare of getting started with breastfeeding, I keep showing up every single day despite the sleepless nights, temper tantrums (theirs and mine), the seemingly endless days. I don’t hesitate to do things the hard way if that is the best way. Motherhood has shown me a side of myself that simply was not there before. It was hidden away waiting to be birthed when I birthed my first son. Now that is one strong mama.
Abby Theuring, MSW