The Learning Curve of Motherhood

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MotherhoodLearningCurveThis weekend my husband and I had an opportunity to catch up with old friends. This was a family we knew before any of us had become parents. Though we’ve seen one another from time to time, we haven’t had an opportunity to really sit down and talk about our lives over the last few years. As parents of two kids, they asked, “What is it like having three kids? What was the transition like?” I told them honestly that in some ways, it was easier. After all, we are seasoned parents, so things like hearing a baby cry isn’t as stressful as it was the first time around. In other ways, the transition has been more difficult. But, then I told them how my perspective on baby’s has changed.

It’s no secret that I was hesitant about having kids. My life was comfortable before kids and I wasn’t sure how that would change after kids. I didn’t have any baby experience, so the thought of caring for a little person 24/7 intimidated me. I understood there would be a steep learning curve to becoming a mother and I didn’t know how I would handle it. In simple terms, babies sort of scared me. And, honestly, it has taken me three babies to no longer be intimidated by them. In fact, I actually enjoy them now. As I have told others, I was scared with the first and still tired when number two came along. As for number three, I am actually enjoying her as a baby. I have relaxed enough to take in the baby stage and not just want to rush through it. That’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy my first two babies at all, but there was a certain comfort level that was lacking when they were little. I spent most of their first year counting down. First it was wanting to make it to 6 weeks, then 3 months, then 6 months, then 9 months and then a year. I felt that each milestone would bring improvement and hopefully become a bit easier.

While there are plenty of women who have a strong desire to become moms and some who ooze motherliness before they even become pregnant, I know I’m not alone in the hesitations and fears I had. I know this especially to be true after reading this in “The Mask of Motherhood: How Becoming a Mother Changes Our Lives and Why We Never Talk About It” by Susan Maushart:

Perhaps the greatest shock of the immediate postpartum period is the realization that motherhood is no more likely to “come naturally” than the baby itself. In technical terms, becoming a mother is “processural”; it happens by degrees, with the slow accumulation of experience and observation, of the wisdom of others and of confidence in oneself. And in our own society, the learning curve is especially steep, its rate of progress uniquely sluggish.

Sluggish. I believe that’s an apt way of describing my motherhood journey. It definitely was a process over time, a process of learning and growing and becoming comfortable with myself as a mother.

So tell us, what was your learning curve to motherhood like? Did it come naturally? Or was it more of a progression over time?

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