I wasn’t sure that motherhood was all that it was cracked up to be when my swaddled newborn was in my arms and on my breasts, day after day, night after night. I yearned to sleep and shower, and stop the burning pain at the episiotomy site every time I sat down for a rest. I wanted to quiet the words telling me that I should be head over heels with emotion because I felt like an imposter for not feeling that way.
But now looking back with a fresh set of eyes, I realize that the postpartum time is like the courting stage of a relationship. My child and I were just settling into a new routine with each other; we were getting to know each other. It seemed like love at first sight, but the connections we formed in the later months and years were more important than the fleeting moment after childbirth. The kind of love I have now, just like any other, took time.
When I look at my children, dancing in the morning in their footed pajamas and reaching out for a hug or a kiss after a long day, I am filled with the kind of love I always dreamed about. My insides ache for them when they are not near, even if it’s for the mommy break I so desperately need. If I head out for some coffee, I am enticed by the decorated sugar cookies because I know my toddler would think they are “fantastic.” I spend my free time searching for arts and crafts online, or searching for child-friendly activities in the internet search bar. To be honest, my children are now a part of me. Their happiness is my happiness, and their pain is my pain.
Often social media depicts a different reality. Posts about overwhelming love, about love at first sight and happy postpartum days may throw you into a spiral. Some of that is manufactured, and some may be real. But the important thing to remember is that every woman’s journey to motherhood looks different, and reaching that level of love and understanding takes time.
There is no time limit on love; there is not one way to feel about your experience with motherhood. You are not a bad mother because you want a break from your child, and you are not any less of a mother because you are still processing your own trauma before being emotionally available to your baby. So be patient with yourself, mama. Your time will come, and from my experience, it was worth the wait.