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Birth is just the beginning

Your child’s whole life is in your hands. There is the promise of a future nestled in your arms. And not just that baby’s future, but yours, too.

Birth is just the beginning

Before many women have their first baby, so much emphasis is placed on their birth experience and success at breastfeeding. New mothers seem to believe their whole worth lay in the balance.


Yet, once your feet come down from the delivery stirrups; life goes on. Because the truth is, the evolution of becoming a mother is not something that happens overnight.

Our validation is not found after a victorious birth experience. It is a slippery elusive thing intertwined with our ability to parent and find joy in the drudgery of rearing children.

Early on, motherhood feels like a stripping away of all the elemental pieces of ourselves that brought definition. As time trudges on, you begin to realize it is not about losing hold of your “old” self, but about blossoming into a new one.

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We emerge from the chrysalis of our former selves unsure if we are ready to embrace our new form and take flight. Some of us flounder. We hold on too tight to who we used to be—and miss all the possibilities that reside just over the horizon.

As we grind through sleepless nights and never-ending days wearing puke-stained yoga pants and a messy topknot to hide the fact we haven’t showered in days, it feels nearly impossible to believe something vital has not been lost.

And perhaps you are right. You will never be the same. But there is something preposterous about the butterfly mourning the loss of her caterpillar self.

Great things are in store for you and that little baby.

Your child’s whole life is in your hands. There is the promise of a future nestled in your arms.

And not just that baby’s future, but yours, too.

You are not defined by your birth plan.

You are not defined by your ability to exclusively breastfeed for the first year of that baby’s life.

You are not defined by that child’s successes or failures.

You are not even defined by your role as a mother.

You are still you; just evolved, expanded, whole.

You define what kind of woman you are going to be.

Will you fly? I hope so. While you’re sitting in your mesh undies in a hospital bed, or at home with a toddler screaming at your feet, just remember you are standing at the edge of a precipice. This is not an end.

I hope you too will launch yourself, as I did, off that edge into a new unfamiliar landscape.

Right now the days are so long and there are times that it feels nearly impossible to find any space for myself. Little hands clinging to my skirts hindering my flight. But that’s okay.

I like to smell the flowers. I will not be slowed forever. There will be a day when those little hands will be gone and I will be left with only myself.

These experiences, this slowing of time, are a honing of who I really am.

I am revealing all sorts of hidden discoveries that would have otherwise been left unearthed. Some are pretty. Some are not.

At times I find myself grasping for composure as what I once thought of as a never-ending supply of patience has run dry. Sometimes I am so very unkind to these two little beings who have taken my days hostage. But my kids have taught me the value of humbling myself when I am wrong. Their ability to forgive is so foreign in my adult landscape. I’m trying it on for size.

I have learned there are times when watches are a hindrance. My toddler has given me the ability to view the world through his unadulterated lenses. While there are times I feel so restless all I can think of is shedding this skin and running free. I know there is a lesson here; a tuning of my spirit. Motherhood has not bridled me. Seeing chains within motherhood is a lie we sometimes tell ourselves.

I choose to define myself beyond my ability to mother my children and by doing so I find a peace during the difficult parts of my day. I find definition in my job, in my role as wife, in my love of nature, books, and cookies.

I take small moments for myself so that I can nurture that little hidden place where the essence that is fundamentally just me can still whispers dreams in my ear. I believe it makes me a fuller person for my children, my husband, and myself. By not denying that I am still an individual beyond my role to my family, I am able to share that vital light.

The birth of my children is not the climax of my life.

Birth was just the beginning and now I’m prepared to fly.

In This Article

    Why right now is the best time for a drivable getaway

    Flexible schedules mean more vacation options. 🙌

    Looking back now, last winter feels like a lifetime ago. At the time, my husband and I were eagerly planning our summer vacation just as we've done in years past. You know how the next part goes: COVID-19 came into the picture and changed our plans not only for vacationing, but for so much else in life.

    In the time since then, we've gained a truly valuable new perspective on what matters—and realized we don't have to look so far to make beautiful memories with our kids. By exploring getaways within driving distance of our home, we've developed a new appreciation for the ability to "pack up the car and go."

    Of course, that isn't to say that travel is the carefree adventure it once was. With COVID-19 still a very big part of the equation, we've become much more diligent about planning trips that allow for social distancing and exceed cleanliness standards. That's why we've exclusively turned to Vrbo, which helps us find nearby accommodations that meet our new criteria. Better yet?

    Thanks to the money we've saved by skipping air travel and our remote-friendly work schedules, we're able to continue with the trips throughout the fall.

    Here are a few more reasons we believe it's a great time for drivable getaways.

    Flexible schedules allow us to mix work + play.

    After months of lockdown, my family was definitely itching for a change of scenery as the summer began. By looking at drivable destinations with a fresh set of eyes—and some helpful accommodation-finding filters on Vrbo—we were able to find private houses that meet our needs. (Like comfortably fitting our family of five without anyone having to sleep on a pull-out couch!)

    With space to spread out and feel like a home away from home, we quickly realized that we didn't need to limit our getaways to the weekends—instead we could take a "Flexcation," a trip that allows us to mix work and play. Thanks to the ability to work remotely and our kids' distance-learning schedule for the fall, we're planning a mid-week trip next month that will allow us to explore a new destination after clocking out for the day.

    We’re embracing off-season deals.

    With Labor Day no longer marking the end of our vacationing season, we're able to take advantage of nearby getaways that mark down their rates during the off season. For us in the Mountain West, that means visiting ski-town destinations when the leaves are falling rather than the snow. By saving money on that front, we're able to splurge a bit with our accommodations—so you can bet I search for houses that include a private hot tub for soaking in while enjoying the mountain views!

    Vacationing is a way to give back.

    If we've learned one thing this year, it's that life can change pretty quickly. That's given us a new appreciation for generous cancellation policies and transparent cleaning guidelines when booking trips. By seeing both of these things front and center in Vrbo listings along with reviews from fellow travelers, I feel confident when I hit the "book now" button.

    Beyond that, I know that booking a trip through Vrbo isn't only a gift to my family. On the other side of the transaction, there are vacation home owners and property managers who appreciate the income during these uncertain times. What's more, taking getaways allows us to support our local economy—even if it's just by ordering new takeout food to enjoy from our home away from home.

    While "looking ahead" doesn't feel as easy as it once did, I am confident that there will be a lot of drivable getaways in our future.

    This article was sponsored by Vrbo. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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    A Montessori-inspired gift guide—for newborns to 6-year-olds

    There are plenty of Montessori-friendly toys that are beautiful and engaging, but also appeal to children's developmental needs.

    With so many toys out there, it can be hard to find intentional gifts for our children that are both fun and meaningful. Using a Montessori approach to your shopping doesn't mean your choices need to be academic. There are plenty of Montessori-friendly toys that are beautiful and engaging, but also appeal to children's developmental needs.

    Montessori toys are usually made from natural materials, non-electronic and foster independent play, creativity and concentration. Montessori materials are simple and somewhat minimalist in general, and this is especially true for infants and young toddlers. The world is so stimulating for these little ones already, that simple toys made of natural materials spark the child's curiosity without being overwhelming.

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    Mama, all I see is you

    A love letter from your baby.

    Mama,

    I can't see past you right now, I'm so small and everything's a little blurry.

    All I see is you.

    When you feel alone, like the walls are closing in, remember I'm here too. I know your world has changed and the days feel a little lonely. But they aren't lonely for me.

    You are my everything.

    When you feel like you don't know what you're doing, you're making it look easy to me. Even though we're still getting to know each other, you know me better than anyone.

    I trust you.

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