Breathing to Find Balance in Motherhood
One of the most surprising aspects of motherhood has been how much my daughter drains me.
There are some mornings that leave me completely spent before 9 am. When I ask her what she wants for breakfast, she changes her mind three times and eats nothing that I serve her. “Put your coat on,” I instruct her before we venture out in the cold. In response, she strips down to her diaper and runs around the house. She tests me daily and I know I am in for a struggle as soon as she gets that mischievous glint in her eyes.
I find motherhood to be a constant giving of myself to my daughter. When she was a newborn I gave up sleep and fed her from my body. In the first few months, I adjusted my schedule to hers, getting up each morning at 5am until she outgrew the early wakeup times. She is a toddler now, with a strong personality and a loud voice. There are temper tantrums over cheese and times when she hurls toys across the room in frustration. Getting through my days requires a lot of patience.
It’s not just the day-to-day tasks that drain me: the diapers and cooking and wiping and cleaning. It’s so much more than that; I breathe my daughter. Our bond is a deep one that ingrains itself on everything in my life.
When she is sad, it pains me. I feel my heart beating loudly in my chest when she enters a new classroom, her nervous, sweaty hand holding onto mine. During the moments when she is frustrated, I find myself empathizing with her. She sits on my lap and I whisper into my ear that I am sorry that I don’t always understand her. These moments wear on me emotionally.
Thankfully, there is the flip side. Although my daughter exhausts me, she fills me up to the brim with the brightest joy and deepest pride. Her happy moments bubble over into my body and I feel myself smiling. My heart lifts whenever I hear the pitter patter of her little feet running around the house. “Mommy,” her little voice calls out and that one simple word fills up my heart.
Every day, I breathe in her baby scent, her infectious laughter and the trail of crumbs she leaves behind. I breathe in her funny toddler language and the crazy outfits she picks out. I breathe out my fierce devotion. I breathe in all that I love about her precious heart and breathe out all that I can give of my own. In and out. In and out. This is how I get through the hard days.
On a recent excursion out for brunch, my daughter did what many toddlers do in restaurants: stood up in her high chair, spilled the salt and ripped open a sugar packet. I could feel the waitress eyeing us and the annoyed looks from the other patrons. I did the best I could to keep her entertained, but she had her own agenda. That familiar feeling of exhaustion took over and I knew I would have to eat my meal quickly so we could leave.
Upon receiving her Mickey Mouse pancake a few minutes later, my daughter smiled. She ripped off a piece of pancake and hugged it. “I hug Mickey,” she excitedly exclaimed. Then she gave it a kiss before she popped it into her mouth. My heart melted.
She did this for each bite of the pancake, making sure to hug and kiss each piece. “Mmmm, good,” she said once she had cleaned the plate.
I took a deep breath, wanting to inhale this moment and commit it to memory. I felt as if I would overflow from her sweetness.
My daughter drains me and then fills me back up again. On the hard days, I play music and we dance around the living room. Sometimes we drive to the harbor nearby and she excitedly looks at the boats, describing them to me. I take her sledding when it snows and she puts out her fingers to catch the snowflakes while giggling. When I hold her tiny hand in mine, I feel complete and whole.
To get through the tough days, I just need to remember to breathe, because there is no one who can fill me to the brim like my beautiful child.
Breathe in; breathe out.
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This post was written by Becky Tountas exclusively for BonBon Break Media, LLC.