This is the time of year when the earth is beginning its long slumber, but for many of us, autumn is a time to get busy. There is so much available to do. We have been to the Statham Sunflower festival, and there are more festivals coming up. I’d love to drive to Ellijay one day and visit the apple farms, and I’m also thinking of taking my sons to a pumpkin patch.
I’m not sure if we’ll get around to these things, though. If there’s one thing I’ve learned while having children, it’s to let go of my plans and expectations.
Perhaps this is an indication that I’m settling into the autumn of this new life as a mother. Let me explain.
The other day I took my children to the park, and two other mothers were hanging out by the equipment.
They each had a baby about the same age as my baby, but I could tell by their conversation (and the absence of older children) that these babies were their first. As my four-year-old played, I caught snippets of their conversation, and I found myself nodding and thinking, yes, yes, I have been there!
Then I realized that I was the most experienced mother around. This was a strange sensation. I certainly don’t feel experienced, especially since my eldest is only four. And I don’t imagine myself to be a “mom.” By that I mean a kind of caricature of a mom that used to come to my mind when I was very young. I still feel like the single, independent gal I once was, only now I’m exhausted and I have a couple of kids whose needs come before mine.
When I had my first child, it was like spring. Everything was new, and the blossoms were so delicate that I didn’t want to touch them for fear of hurting them.
I can remember one of the first times my husband and I ventured out with our first baby. We fussed over our little bundle at our car outside a restaurant. The restaurant had outdoor seating, and an older couple sat watching us. After changing our son’s diaper and doing whatever else we probably didn’t need to do, we turned to go into the restaurant.
My husband said proudly to the couple, “It’s our first baby!”
The couple laughed and said, “We can tell!”
Besides the learning curve new parents have with babies, there was also the angst of trying to balance what was my former, non-parenting life with my new life as a mom. No matter how much you’re ready to have children, I think it’s hard to imagine how different life will be with them. You think you can do it all, and when you can’t, it makes you restless. Kind of like spring fever.
When my child got a little older, and I had a second child, things got easier because I had more experience. With two children, there is even less time for rest, and I often felt hot and sweaty trying to keep up with them…just like summer. From necessity, I gave up on trying to keep up old habits, but I still got a little restless at times.
But then something shifted in me. That restlessness has fallen away, and I have given up on wanting to be anywhere other than where I am. Sure I need breaks sometimes, but I feel more settled into this motherhood thing. Four years have taught me that I better pay attention because these kids grow up fast. If I blink, I’ll miss it. This is what I mean about the “autumn” of a new motherhood.
Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “What lies behind us and what lies ahead of us are tiny matters to what lies within us.” For me this means letting go of what I think I want and appreciating the moment for what it is – just perfect. In the winter of motherhood, I may still not get to rest very much, but at least my mind will be tranquil, and my eyes will be open.
Shelli Bond Pabis is a Winder resident and columnist for the Barrow Journal. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.