Fifteen months ago, after D joined our family, I wrote about how I was so “in it,” so in the middle of figuring things out, that I had trouble articulating my thoughts in a succinct blog post.
I still feel like that. Parenthood is a train that keeps moving, no matter how much you want it to slow down, to relish a fun new stage or simply catch up on sleep. It barrels forward while you work and travel and live, and because you don’t want to miss a single smile or cry or milestone, you hang on as tight as you can.
Becoming a mom has been the most joyful transition of my life — and the most challenging. I used to think about my past as a series of stages, often based around where I called home: childhood in upstate New York, college in Maine, working for the newspaper in Houston, traveling in Africa, running my own business from DC, enjoying life as a newly married couple.
Now I see it far more simply, as two distinct stages: before and after D was born.
Motherhood is all encompassing, for better and for worse. I dislike the term “mommy brain” because it makes women sound weak and forgetful, instead of acknowledging the million pieces they juggle every day. But I now, as I struggle to keep up with my tiny human and my full-time job at The Penny Hoarder, I understand why people say it.
Imagine taking your already-full brain and stuffing it with two or three times as many things to understand and remember — oh, and those new things are more important than what you had in there previously, because they involve taking care of a tiny baby you love and adore.
Would all that information fit? Would you remember it all? Hell no.
And yet somehow, your heart is able to accomplish what your brain simply can’t. Having a baby means adding more love than you’ve ever felt before, piling all the new love right on top of the old love, and then piling more love on top of that… and your heart still doesn’t explode or overheat or fail. You feel something indescribably wonderful when your baby laughs, when he cuddles up to your chest, when he explores grass for the first time with his tiny fingers and you can see the wheels in his head turning. It is a beautiful gift to nurture another human being as they grow.
So how is it possible, with all that love and so much good, that this transition could also be so darn hard?