Letters from a Learning Mother

Yes, We Can

I myself was never a recipient, but I’ve heard several stories of women getting looks of compassion in response to sharing the news that they were pregnant. I did, however, hear the phrase “Sleep while you can!” multiple times in the months leading up to Ellis’ birth. Other remarks consisted of, “Enjoy your freedom while it lasts!” and “Cherish your dates with your husband – you won’t be having many of those in the next 18 years!”

I was very aware of the fact that a chapter in my life was coming to a close as I watched my belly grow and expand day after day. I was crossing my t’s and dotting my i’s in my story of Life Before Motherhood.

I was saying goodbye to the speed at which my husband and I could bounce out the door and the minimal amount of things I put in my pockets before doing so.

Everything takes longer now. Some things, just a few seconds more, like walking up a flight of stairs carrying an extra 20 lbs with a baby and a diaper bag in tow. Other things, such as getting out of the house, seem to take ages these days.

Back in high school, I was the girl who walked into her first class with soaking wet hair every day… because why waste time drying my hair when I knew it would air-dry by fourth period? I would hit the snooze button until ten minutes before I needed to be on my way, then proceed to scramble out of bed, grab my toothbrush and hop in the shower, get dressed, and stuff a handful of snacks into my backpack that I would eat for breakfast in first hour (which just so happened to be choir – sorry, Mrs. Smith!)

My habits didn’t change when I moved to Germany and lived in an apartment just down the street from the train station. It would’ve been only a short, five minute walk to get there, but I usually ended up barely managing to hop onto the train each morning, completely out of breath, having woken up about fifteen minutes before. Somehow, I only missed the train twice in an entire year and can’t recall ever skipping breakfast, which was usually a Nutella sandwich in my hand as I sprinted down the street.

I’ve made the mistake of starting to gather our things just a few minutes before we needed to leave the house several times since Ellis was born, only to quickly discover that I am definitely not as quick as I used to be.

When I was five months pregnant, I sang in a live CD recording on a hot day in May. At our band’s practices and rehearsals, while the others were tuning their instruments, I put up my swollen feet and rubbed my kicking belly, wondering if those would be my last moments on stage for the next few years.

My husband and I babymooned just a few months later at a lake about an hour and a half from where we live. We wanted to go to the ocean, but a seven hour drive seemed a little too risky at 36 weeks. In our previous years together, we discovered our love for spontaneous trips and quick, refreshing vacations strategically placed throughout the year. At the lake, I asked myself if our days of seeing the world were over.

Now that our firstborn has entered our world, I have come to discover that while it is true that there are things that aren’t possible to do with a baby, they are few.
Things that require more effort, however, are many.

It’s probably good that I didn’t give it much thought beforehand, but last week, my husband was in Berlin, so I hopped in the car with Ellis and went to visit a friend and her family in France. We hit a few bumps in the road on our way there, but we arrived three hours after we had left. The drive home a couple days later only took two hours – and Ellis slept the entire time!

My husband and I are passionate about breakfast and love filling the table with pancakes, fresh fruit, coffee, bacon and eggs – especially after sleeping in on weekends. Every now and then, we like to go to one of our favorite cafés and eat breakfast there. Although it can be quite challenging to navigate my fork from my plate to my mouth when there’s a baby on my lap who has taken a sudden, very strong interest in food, our breakfast dates have remained just as enjoyable as they were before we were a family.

A friend of mine once said that he’s the kind of person who discovers lines by crossing them, then he takes a step back once he realizes that he has gone too far. It sounds like a simple concept, but it doesn’t come naturally to me. I spent years shying away from my limits and boundaries, afraid of even getting close to them, let alone crossing them. But I’m learning to find out what does and doesn’t work with a baby by trial and error, instead of just assuming.

We can still go to our friends’ birthday parties, we just might have to leave a little earlier. I can still sing on stage, I just have to wear my sleeping baby in his sling or let someone I trust spend some quality time with him. We can still go on adventures to see the world, just at a slightly slower pace.

The following sentence is definite proving to be true in our lives. “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go as a family.” And so, together we will go.

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