I’m a mother.
The change does not happen the instant you read the plus sign on the home pregnancy test or even when the doctor or nurse utters those few simple words. No.
While the initial reaction and cascading effects of such monumental news is particularly dramatic and traumatic – truly life altering – for a teenager or unwed mother, for many, no matter how well prepared, it is a news flash met with an emotional cocktail of expectation, excitement, anxiety, fear and, yes, perhaps, dread.
Will I be a good mother?
The answer to that is as individual as each precious child.
Almost every woman changes in some way – some more than others, some visibly, some invisibly – from the way she looks at herself, her own mother and others to the way she orders her priorities in life.
As February celebrates love, Maine Women takes a look at another aspect of the emotion – a mother’s love for her children. Here, in their own words, Jessica Verrill and Melissa Cyr share their own their personal stories, revealing how motherhood has changed their lives with straightforward honesty about the hard truths many are too proud to admit.
‘I have difficulty finding who I used to be, and that is a good thing’
Occupation: Chemical engineer turned “domestic engineer”
Family: Verrill and her husband, Cory, have been married nine years and have two daughters, ages 6 and 4.
Becoming a mother has so dramatically changed my life that it is difficult to describe. The circumstances of my life have certainly changed.
Before having children, I worked as a chemical engineer for a couple of international companies and also for a university. I traveled regularly, had money to waste, and spent my weekends loafing around.
After becoming pregnant with my first child, the travel stopped. After she was born, the money was gone and loafing became a distant memory. When she was 9 months old, I stopped working and started life as a stay-at-home mom. My second daughter was born when the oldest was 2 and I don’t think I’ve stopped running since then.
To one who is not a parent these may all seem like negative changes, but the way motherhood has changed me is well worth all of that. I now realize how precious time is. I can never go back and have their childhoods again, so I must be present physically, mentally, and emotionally as much as I can. I have become more open to improving my character so that I can be the best possible example to my girls. My expectation of perfection, from myself and others, diminishes more and more as time goes by.
Motherhood has changed my relationships, as well.
First, my relationship with myself – I am no longer the center of the universe. (That is difficult for an only child to admit.) Second, my relationship with God has improved as I have realized that I cannot do this well without His guidance. Third, my marriage is stronger and at the same time less urgent. My relationship with my parents is primarily about my children instead of being about me.
My friendships are deeper as a result of going through the challenges of motherhood together. Instead of focusing on that which essentially boils down to gossip, we now look to each other for support during those tough times when we can’t find the answer.
Becoming a mother has changed my life so much that I have difficulty finding who I used to be, and that is a good thing.
‘My perspective ?on life would never ?be the same’
Family: Cyr and her husband, Ben, have been married eight years and have four sons, ages 7, 5, 3 and 2, and an 8-month-old daughter.
Sometimes it’s hard to see the big picture. When I am sleep deprived because I have a colicky baby or I haven’t showered in two days because I’ve been so busy taking care of five kids or I realize I haven’t left the house in two weeks because it’s just too much work with all these little ones, it can be very hard to enjoy motherhood.
On those days when I just don’t have anything left to give and I just want to give up it’s very easy for me to lose my perspective. Every mother’s perspective or “big picture” is different. For me, the big picture just happens to stem from my belief in God. He is what my life is all about and He is where my perspective comes from. I can’t talk about how being a mom changed my life without including God in the story.
There is a defining moment in every person’s life where they realize something about their thinking has changed. Usually it’s due to an event or maybe a book they read or an experience they had. We all have that “ah ha!” moment where we realize that from that moment on we will not be the same. I am not one of those mother’s whose “ah ha” moment came the day I met my first baby. It did not even come a year after becoming a mom. No, my moment came through something much different. It was the moment I heard the words, “Your son has a hole in his heart and is going to require open-heart surgery.” He was 3 years old at the time and I was seven months pregnant with our third son. My perspective on life would never be the same.
Life is short and I don’t think I really believed that until that moment. I took a lot about being a mom for granted. Like the fact that I could be a mom and not just to one but to five. I am so blessed! Some days I lose my perspective among the piles of laundry and the cries of the children. I don’t think I’m alone in that. All moms lose perspective, whatever their perspective may be.
The important thing is that you have perspective. That you have something you hold onto and that keeps you focused on what you are striving to do. For me I am striving to live a life that honors God and raise children who will one day do the same. My focus is on making each day I have with my kids count because every day I have with them is a gift, not a guarantee.
Being a mom is hard. Harder than I ever imagined it would be. People tell me that I will miss these days and to cherish them. Right now it is very hard to believe that I will miss the sleepless nights, the fighting, the never-ending pile of laundry and a house that is never clean, but I believe them when they say to cherish these moments so I try to make the most of it all.
Becoming a mom changed my life because it gave me perspective I never had before. It has helped me to see what’s really important, my bigger picture.
Andrea Rose is a writer who lives in Lebanon with her husband and ?three children.
Jessica Verrill: “I now realize how precious time is”, referring to both the struggle to keep up with busy schedules, but the understanding of how fleeting the present is.Melissa Cyr: “I am so blessed!”