17 Lessons I Learned During Motherhood
By: Kaitlyn Pattock Illustration: Maggie Cole
It’s true what they say. When you hold your baby in your arms for the first time, it changes you forever in various ways that will shock and amaze you. Pregnancy activates the maternal instincts of body and mind, wholly preparing you, if you listen. The first little kicks onset the nesting, or the urge to organize, decorate and create a nurturing and protective environment for the tiny human miraculously being created inside. Slowly, more subtle shifts take place that lead to not just a baby being born, but a Mother being born as well. We are raw, primal, strong, loving, and empowered women. However, divine motherhood is the ultimate self-taught lesson of your life, because it’s different for every single woman, so we all figure it out on our own as we go along, and one thing is for sure: we all have doubts, worries, and fears. While blossoming into a Mother, I learned some important lessons while finding my own groove that helped ease that for me over the past three years. We all talk about how much we’re going to teach our kids one day, but let’s consider how much these kids are actually teaching us.
As a Mama Bear, I found the courage to actually pluck the weeds from my life. I became passionate about making sure the people, places, and situations surrounding my child were acceptable. I found bravery in standing behind my decisions and became more assertive in fostering a suitable environment for him at all times. In doing that, I learned the importance (and difficulty) of speaking up and setting boundaries.
I realized that I wasn’t losing myself in Motherhood, I was finding myself in it. I was actually evolving into who I was always meant to be. It felt natural, right and real and continues to lead me to a better, wiser, more confident and mature version of myself. I feel proud of own authenticity and intend to keep the promise to myself to always be growing as a person, wife, mother, and woman.
I developed a new appreciation for my body. I feel proud of its capabilities. It gave life and nourished that life for a whole year. That ignited a fire inside me to level up and really prioritize self-care, giving my body the freedom to guide my needs. I knew that meant trusting myself and committing to (mostly) maintaining a healthy body and sound mind for a calm and happy mommy. “The world will see you the way you see you, and treat you the way you treat yourself.” –Beyonce
I became unbothered by societal pressures and opinions by learning that approval doesn’t matter, so I stopped seeking it. Motherhood caused me to peel back layers of years of accumulated conditioning, revealing my true core and letting it shine. That gave me freedom to be my genuine self, live my truth, and be more confident in my abilities. Being at peace with my choices opened me up to true love and appreciation. I’m now unapologetic for my imperfections, my priorities, and my drive to live my best life for my little family.
I became stronger, mentally pushing myself every day to deal with things I never had to before, and physically powering through any sickness, fatigue, or anxiety that popped up, because letting my son down wasn’t an option. I was fueled by the fact that his needs came before mine, and I had to be selfless to be there for him in crucial moments.
I became more selective with what occupied my time. Through trial and error, I found balance by viewing my life as a pie chart with my priorities divided into fluid sections, recognizing I can do it all, maybe just not all at the same time. I also simplified housework, working smarter, not harder, so as not to take too much time and attention away from interacting with my son, while still providing him with a clean, healthy and organized household.
I became more sensitive to energies and in tune with what made me feel uncomfortable, disrespected, or unsafe. I felt so motivated to protect the space of the innocent child, I had to look after now, that couldn’t stand up for himself yet. That helped me to find my voice, so when something made me feel some type of way, I was able to recognize a red flag and respond accordingly.
I developed a mantra of kindness, love and gratitude. In essence, this helped me banish grudges, anxiety and negativity. I learned that worrying is like putting yourself through something twice, and Buddha said holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. I had to let go of emotional baggage that didn’t contribute to my ultimate goal of becoming my best self and setting a good example for my son.
I adopted a more positive, spiritual outlook. I stopped seeking happiness, and instead, I found purpose in creating it. I learned the true power of manifestation and how my energies inspire and can manufacture my circumstances, so coming from a place of love and acting with good intentions became a nonnegotiable for me.
I overcame the guilt I had for being ruthless in my expectation of mutual respect. I had to decide what kind of life I wanted for my son, and then say no to everything that wasn’t that. I realized my worth and established a profound instinct to not accept anything less than what I (or my family) deserved in terms of loyalty and integrity. “Darling, you take the high horse and I’ll take the high road.” –Kacey Musgraves
I learned that taking accountability for your actions is essential. Ultimately, we are all humans and we all make mistakes, but you can never move past low points in relationships without taking sincere ownership.
I learned that you can’t blame a clown for being a clown, but you can stop going to the circus. In other words, I’ve accepted that certain things are out of my control, and I have no power to change them, but I do have the power to change how I react to them, or how I let it affect me, and that can really change everything.
I realized that disagreements are simply opportunities for discussions, not a chance to fight, be offended, judge, criticize, bully, or condescend. I vowed to practice more grace, humility and generosity with others, and in turn it attracted people with similar goals. I’m now able to develop a stronger sense of camaraderie among mothers, even if they have completely different views than me. We each have our own story, our own methods, and it doesn’t matter whose kid hits what milestones when, but having good mom friends to vent to about your toddler’s epic meltdown in Target is priceless.
I started embracing the village that it takes to raise a child. Although I don’t have the luxury of family on call, and I don’t love asking for help, I know how truly amazing my support system is. They accept me for exactly who I am, are there for the laughs and the cries, they keep me grounded, and always have my back when I need it most. I cherish all of them and feel honored to share my life with them. They’ve helped me realize that vulnerability isn’t a bad thing, but is actually a form of honesty that is necessary on the journey to self-love.
I shouldn’t feel ashamed if I didn’t get around to doing all of the things some days. Life happens and sometimes the mom life struggle is real, so I shouldn’t be too hard on myself. No one cares if my house is a disaster, my kid’s running around naked, and I haven’t showered. I have to be real with myself and believe in myself no matter what.
Hard work pays off. Perseverance can be tough, but when I learned to take ownership of my goals, beliefs, hopes and dreams, I was able to strive at eliminating obstacles. Whether it’s sleep training, potty training, or actually birthing the baby, we’re making mommy moves, and there is no such thing as defeat. No matter how many times you think you failed, you can always get back up knowing hard work will eventually prevail. “Everyone looks at you strange. They say you changed. Like you worked that hard to stay the same” –Jay-z
Most importantly, I realized that no one was better suited to be Maverick’s mother than I. I am irreplaceable. I am the one the universe picked to be his mommy, and for that reason alone, I am the perfect fit for the job. He is half me (probably the crazy part), and I created him. I know him better than anyone because he lived inside me, and that bond is so deep. I trust that my own natural intuition will always lead me to his best interests. I know it in my gut; I feel it in my soul. I am me because he gave meaning to my life and taught me that there ain’t no hood like Motherhood!