When I first became a mother, I had no idea of the complex, messy, beautiful journey ahead of me. In all honesty, I hadn't even really considered what to expect. I knew I had no clue what being a mother would entail, so I didn't think about it until it happened. That's the way I tend to roll with things these days, think only about what you're facing in that moment, don't project needlessly into the future with "what ifs?".
My baby is 16 weeks old now. A part of me cannot believe how quickly the time has passed. My precious newborn has disappeared and an incredible young girl is emerging in her place, bringing new delights daily. It actually brings a tear to my eye writing this thinking about how much of a journey we have shared so far, and it's not even been 4 months.
And while all that is true on the one hand, there is another side to this mothering journey that is newer. This side is not one I witnessed in the first weeks when I was in some kind of limbo between awe and shock at the change of it all. This is the side of mothering where time stands still, things feel difficult and you wonder if you are strong or capable enough to do it.
At no point have I ever felt Bodhi is a burden. I am forever filled with love every time I see her face or hear her little squirms in the night. But there are new experiences that come with this that I'm still learning to navigate.
Living in the present moment, never overthinking and taking life in my stride had become second nature to me prior to having Bodhi. It was easy, just how I lived my life and it felt like there was nothing to it. That has changed now, there are new challenges I wasn't expecting and times when I find it very hard to achieve.
Like now for example. It's 5.45am, Bodhi is fast asleep but I've been awake since 4. I woke when she stirred and my brain began to think at full speed, and no matter what I couldn't switch it off. It feels almost fraudulent to say that because we teach how to have a quiet mind. But in the face of huge life changes, this is a process that I have to relearn.
It's nowhere near as hard as it was the first time round. I have much clearer perspective on it now and can see my thoughts for what they are without engaging with them too much. But it's still a new learning nonetheless.
I've always stood by the fact that this journey is never a complete one. There is no finish line, nobody standing in the distance ready to give you a certificate and say "well done, you've passed". There is no test. There is only you and your mind, and your ability to control what goes on in it.
Different points on the journey will feel like regressions to you. Right now, I could easily believe I've gone backwards. But that's not true at all. Having a child has reached places in me that I never knew existed. I am learning how to feel into those spaces with love and compassion. I am learning how to quiet my mind in the face of huge change and new life circumstances.
These are skills that will stay with me when I master them, and make the next transition smoother and easier than this one. Every day is a step forward and I invite that with open arms. Even when it feels difficult. Even though everything has changed. Even though I haven't yet mastered this new reality that's playing out.
I write this not to share my troubles with you but instead to reassure you that you're not alone. If you feel like you've gone backwards on your journey, know that it's not possible. Every new situation and every reaction to it is a learning curve, allowing you to bring mindfulness to new areas of your life. You don't have to master it overnight, or all in one go. One step at a time is enough.
Don't beat yourself up for it. Acceptance and self compassion goes a long way. If your mind is noisy, let's not add to that noise by berating yourself. You're doing great, and better days are on the horizon.