The Stages of New Motherhood

As moms we focus a lot of our attention on the stages of childhood. It starts as soon as we bring our newborns home from the hospital — the stage of mixed-up days and nights. They move on, eventually, through so many stages it’s impossible to count them all.

The army crawl stage.

The wobbly first steps.

The stage when they discover that the baby in the mirror is a pretty cool little dude.

Time passes. They grow up. Soon they’re in the thumb-sucking stage, or the stage of eating only chicken nuggets or wearing only the one red shirt. There is the talking back stage and the refusal to get a haircut stage and the stage when you worry they’ll never learn long division.

(They do.)

(Trust me.)

Each stage represents a point of light in the line of their development, their progression toward the person they’ll one day become. But have you ever considered that as mothers we’re going through stages ourselves?

When I was new to motherhood I had wobbly legs of my own. For the first few months I lived in the stage of self-doubt.

It was marked by late nights scouring mommy blogs and seeking the advice of the pros, of crying in the doctor’s office when I couldn’t calm my colicky child. It was walking the floor. It was not showering. It was bouncing, shushing, attempting to soothe.

It was stopping at the corner to check the car seat installation, even though I’d made sure it was secure before leaving the house.

It was being reassured by my girlfriends that this was normal. It was making myself believe that I was doing a good job.

Thankfully, I came out of that new mommy haze and entered the next stage: falling madly, deeply, truly in love. For most women, I suspect, this stage comes first. But because of colic I didn’t truly bond with my son until he was three months old. I loved him before this, of course, but at the 12 week mark it hit me like a ton of bricks. He was here. He was mine. And he was perfect.

I traced the lines of his face, studied the swirl of hair on the top of his head. I inhaled him. I memorized his scent, made music of his sounds. I delighted in the bathing and the grooming and the dressing and the nursing.

It was our magic time.

Life eventually caught up with me, and reality set in. Before his first birthday I really hit my stride. No longer did I feel like the child in my arms was a new addition to our family; it felt as though he’d always been there.

He was my child and I was his mother. It would be forever.

The two of us would continue to pass through stage after stage, one day to the next. Some will challenge us. Some will come easily. Some will make us want to cover our heads with our pillows and question what the heck we’re doing.

But the thing about being a parent is this: No matter what stage you’re going through and no matter what battle you’re facing, we’re in it together. Together is the stage that doesn’t ever end.

Photo Credit: Lisa Stone/Flickr

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