It’s been a year since Nellie was born. It’s been a year since I became a mother. It’s been a year since I labored new life into this world — for her and for myself.

That’s the thing about having a baby, the newness of life isn’t just exclusive to the tiny human. In that second between Nellie cocooned and warm in my belly, to when she was taking her first draws of oxygen, I was wheeled furiously into a life I was not prepared for. Because you can’t prepare to be a mother. Sure, you can prepare to take care of a child with all of the bassinets and the books and the burp cloths. But nothing prepares you for motherhood except for motherhood.

So, in that second, that infinite and tiny second, Nellie and I were both born. Nellie to the earth of cold air and discomfort and beauty and brightness. Me to the earth that no longer spun along my precise axis. We were both ripped from something familiar and warm, but unlike my baby, it felt like I was supposed to be happy about it?

I never doubted that I would love my child. I doubted whether I would love being a mom. And most days my jury is still out on that. I don’t love motherhood like I see so many other women loving motherhood, lounging languidly with their rolly-polly babes, big smiles and great wardrobes. Instead, I reel, wide-eyed and at times explosive, against the daily demands of raising a child and the feelings of lost independence.

But— yes, but— I do love who it’s making me. It’s a different person, who is still very much becoming, but becoming some one I’m more proud of, nonetheless. Someone a little less preoccupied with my needs and wants and desires. A little less focused on doing it all, and a little more focused on doing a few things with a few people in a few places. Out and about less, home and enjoying stillness more.

These are the things that I’ve wanted for myself– so badly!– that I never quite had the discipline to pursue on my own. These qualities are not exclusive to motherhood, I just didn’t submit to a life less about me, less about busyness, less about striving before Nellie.

I guess you could say she forced my hand, or God did, but the result is the same: less me, and more being okay with that.

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