I always wondered whether or not I really wanted to be a mother. Most of these thoughts were the musings of a much younger me looking ahead with plans for my life. However, even as I got married, got baby fever, even when I finally got pregnant, I wondered: “is this for me?”
I think this is pretty normal. It’s a mixture of insecurity and the fear of taking on a new, very permanent, and all encompassing life change. The same sort of questioning anxiety we all have when we are about to start something new. This time, however, there was no turning back. For me permanent change is absolutely deafening in its terror.
The end all be all when I was faced with those insecurities was that I knew at the end of time, I would regret not having this adventure far far more than I could ever wish I was not a mother. I just couldn’t fathom not having the experience.
My day to day for the past several years has essentially been 100% up to me. I dabbled in many things over the years, changing my major in college then wandering from job category to job category with zero goals or intent. It was that I was an adult, and adults go to work, but it didn’t matter what I was doing it would never fulfill me for long. My last job was as an admin in a vet’s office. I even went to school for a couple semesters while working there, so inspired by how I felt at the clinic that I decided to gather required coursework to attend vet school. I took this tumbleweed type approach to life as a result of being young and feeling as though I had all the time in the world.
That all changed when my friend Daniel got in a fatal car accident. Suddenly my feelings of invincibility were shattered and I went to another extreme: I needed to achieve the dream status of life and I needed to do it NOW. I finished up that semester and decided to call it quits at school, and a few months after that we used hubby’s spring raise at work as an opportunity for me to quit my job. All I wanted to do was be a housewife and RIDE, and we made it happen. I will never stop looking back at that pivotal moment with anything other than massive gratitude towards my husband for that opportunity – which has brought me two years of blissful memories in the saddle with two horses, time devoted to caring for my home life and renovating then selling our first home and buying our first farm, and overall the ability to create my days as I pleased.
In some aspects, I worried this had spoiled me when it came down to adding a child. However, it was how I designed my life of “freedom” that actually did the opposite. Committing to doing self care for your horses and then moving them to your own farm takes a great deal of sacrifice. I was always at the barn (or now, just “in” the barn) doing something for my highly dependent animals. If I wasn’t riding I was feeding, mucking, washing, doctoring, farm improving and maintaining, not to mention sitting around waiting for never-on-time vet and farrier appointments which seemed to happen daily. Then when I got home when I had the horses boarded, I had four animals plus a husband under my own roof to feed and tend to, before then frantically finishing home projects on the to-sell list so I could buy my own farm and add even more work to my life. I think you get the gist – I may be unemployed, but I’m busy, and mostly with things that are not exclusively my own. I was busy busy laying all the stonework I could imagine to build the perfect foundation for parenthood.
So I was used to having dependents. For most of my pregnancy, despite what I was told, I thought I could “do it all” when Reed was first born. I’m glad I listened to the advice of others, and took opportunities when they arose to vacate my property temporarily of horses. I was able to return Emma to an old owner permanently, send Sully to full training for 6+ months, and even stow Winnie the mini at my friend’s farm as a needed companion pony. I thought it was silly at the time but looking back I thank myself over and over for doing this.
When newborn days finally arrived, I was SLAMMED. I thought I was used to having dependents, but this type of dependency was a whole new level of 24-7, can’t walk away, can’t have a moment to eat sleep pee or shower dependency. Breastfeeding I feel adds to this, because not only are you learning something new, difficult, and painful, your new baby’s entire survival depends on it and you don’t ever get away from it. The weight of those early days is so intense. Sure it helps that you love this baby more than life itself and it’s so stinkin cute, but that doesn’t help when your nips are bleeding at 2am because that stinkin cute thing latches on with piranha jaws for the tenth time in less than 24 hours (during which you’ve slept 15 minutes). There were lots of tears, lots of snide remarks between my husband and I, and lots of “wow, I really can’t do this” type of thinking.
Looking back on those very first days, I think how much easier it has already gotten on the whole, but still on the daily there are those moments when you can’t think of a time things were any harder than they are right now. It is definitely a roller coaster that keeps throwing new curves, ups, and downs that weren’t on the intial blueprints. But I also get lots of little gifts – like when he takes a two hour nap and I get the house cleaned AND eat AND nap. Or when I look down at him because he has paused while nursing and find that it’s because that adorable little terror is smiling up at me with so much fierce love it stops me in my tracks and swallows me whole.
The thought of doing all of this while still caring for THREE horses makes me totally LOL. I would’ve done it and made it happen, but thank all the gods everywhere that I don’t need to. However then there is the flip side of this realization in which I wonder when I will ever be able to not just handle but enjoy having my horses home again. Sully comes home in August and I will probably bring Winnie with him as well, and I can only cross my fingers that I can learn my new normal once again to feed, care for, and ride my horse while also having a four month old.
However, when it comes down to it, this is the dream. The farm, the horses, the babies, and the ability to be home with them all. I am going to constantly wonder if I can handle this, if I can do this, if I am cut out for this – but at the end of time I would bet everything in the world I will not look back at these days with regret, but rather they will be some of the best days of my life.