By Danielle M Zazueta
Mother’s Day is approaching, and I’ll be out of town away from my husband as I help my brother and his wife ease into life with their newborn son. It’s caused me to reflect on what Mother’s Day really means to me now that I’m a mom. I usually feel that holidays celebrating parents are filled with obligation. The cards are sappy, the brunches are cheesy and there’s just too much pressure to show the appropriate amount of gratitude for those who raised you, whether you agree with it or not. My tune changed when our son was born. I now feel these holidays are more for parents to show their appreciation toward each other for all the hard work and effort each of us has put into raising our children.
These days, the only people I want to spend Mother’s Day with are my husband and son. I realize this sounds bad, but being a mother is the most difficult, thankless job I have ever had. The demands that come with being a parent can quickly wear me down, and the total responsibility for another human being’s development and welfare is overwhelming. But, my son’s smile can light up my world on the cloudiest days. Though difficult, being a mother has become one of the most rewarding adventures I’ve had. It took a long time for me to come to this realization. I struggled with my preconceptions of what I felt motherhood was supposed to be like. It wasn’t until I finally embraced the reality that I saw the light.
When I was pregnant, I read every book I could get my hands on, only to leave the hospital feeling still, incredibly unprepared. As my husband Rob said, “Wow, we have a child. Now, what do we do?” The difficulties started immediately. I was completely devoted to (ok, obsessed with) the idea of breastfeeding my son. The “Breast is Best” posters in the recovery room only reinforced this drive. But my son Dustin had a huge problem latching. To make matters worse, I had low milk supply. I was willing to do whatever was necessary to increase my supply and work on his latching issues, but the worry and struggle took its toll. All of this compounded with the usual stresses of being a new mother, and that kind of stress only further reduces a mother’s supply of milk. After 9 months of herbs, consultants, and supplemental nursing, Dustin finally decided the boob was not for him. It broke my heart.
Dustin is now 18 months old. He’s a healthy, happy child who is learning and growing more every day. One of his new words is “Love”. Whenever we say that to him, he runs over and gives us a hug and a kiss, which is not a trick we taught him to associate with the word. Knowing that my son understands the concept of love is intensely gratifying – it’s proof that we express it enough to him to comprehend. I no longer lay awake at night with worry. When I look back at all the stress I put myself through with the breastfeeding – all those feelings of inadequacy as a mother – and I see how well my son is coming along in spite of those early difficulties, I wonder whether all that stress was worth it. All of that worry seems like a blur now. Each day, I am thankful for the developments Dustin makes and for having my supportive husband as a partner in this journey. Hopefully, one day my son will look back on his life and understand that each decision I made was out of love.
But he will only really understand what it is like to be a parent when he has his own child; that’s when I realized how important my own parents are and that they did their best. Being a parent has made me appreciate my parents more.
Danielle Zazueta is a freelance writer and has her own site mommyexpectations.com with blogs about the journey of her family.
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