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Not too long ago, I had boldly proclaimed to a table of our closest friends that I might never get pregnant again.
I know. Statements like that are stupid. I was basically asking for a surprise pregnancy by being too vocal about my plans (or lack of plans) for my reproductive system. Sure enough, I was already pregnant at that point and found out a week later that I was unexpectedly expecting another child.
Immediately, I told myself what I thought I needed to hear: Forget that I had just made plans to start focusing on my career more and had deposited the first little bit of money into our "Europe without kids fund." You will not be disappointed, you will put on your big girl pants and be happy about this pregnancy.
But I was disappointed. Sure I was excited, but I was also having a rough time adjusting to the idea of another two years of sleepless nights and putting off my plans. And I felt terribly guilty for feeling that way.
I felt stupid for crying over the prospect of another few years of interrupted sleep.
The reminders of friends and family who struggle with fertility and how grateful I should be for my perfectly functioning reproductive system only made matters worse. But trying to ignore my disappointment and deny any conflicting feelings about my pregnancy wasn't right either. The resentment was building up inside me while I pretended to be through-the-roof excited as I shared the news with our close friends and family.
After over a month of feeling this way, I told the truth about my feelings about being pregnant in my therapist's office. I told her how petty I felt for being upset about giving up the new independence I was experiencing as my daughter grew older. I explained how I felt stupid for crying over the prospect of another few years of interrupted sleep. I kind of expected her to agree, to tell me I was being self-centered and to buck up and move on with my life.
Instead, she told me that what I was feeling was not only normal, it was necessary. If I was going to move from disappointment to gratitude and excitement, I had to fully embrace the dark and sad feelings I was experiencing. She sent me home with an assignment: to cry over this big change, to feel overwhelmed and to stop beating myself up over it.
I have to be honest about the hardest parts of being a mom, or I will only grow to resent my role.
And it worked (well, mostly). It is taking time, but I am figuring out that I have to be honest about the hardest parts of being a mom, or I will only grow to resent my role and this season of my life. I'm not really talking about the blow-outs, the countless dishes or the toddler tantrums. Those? Well, they are par-for-the-course. I am talking about the life-altering parts of being a mom: giving up your independence, delaying your plans for the next few (or 20) years of your life, saying no to yourself over and over in favor of what is in the best interest of your family.
These things are hard, and I can't deny it or gloss over it with filtered shots on Instagram. I can't romanticize this life.
Now, I find myself living in a delicate balance. I catch myself smiling at my growing bump in the mirror, anticipating nursing another sweet little babe, and even sighing over tiny clothes in Target. At the same time, I don't deny that I am overwhelmed and a little worried when I think about what the next year holds. But by being honest about the good and the bad of motherhood, I can live in radical acceptance of myself, my kids and the life we are living together.