There are many reasons as to why I had a child later in life than most of my friends did. A lot of it had to do with loving my solitude, independence, and freedom. I have always loved children — of that there is no doubt. But I knew that once I did have a child of my own, there would be no going back. I knew that I would give a child all of me — and that thought was terrifying.
Once I did finally have my daughter, I did lose all of those things I feared I would and then some. It was terrifying.
I lost my body. My exercise routine went right out the window after I gave birth. Childbirth ravaged my body. I was physically drained and exhausted every single day. My healthy diet soon followed suit. I gained weight. I was out of shape. It took me a good 3 to 4 years for me to get back into the swing of things.
I lost my rest. Between getting up all night long, the chaos of learning how to breastfeed, failing at breastfeeding (you can read about that here) and also caring for an older stepchild during the day — I was indeed the mommy zombie people joke about.
I lost my solitude. I almost cracked under the pressure of being a human food source, taxi service, nurse, cleaner, cook, playmate, mom, stepmom and wife. There was no alone time. Ever.
I lost my style. Where I would once wear trendy little outfits and cute jeans with a leather jacket, it was now all about pajama pants, over-sized shirts (stolen from my husband’s closet), and stretchy yoga pants. If it looked half-decent and was comfortable — it was in style for me.
My story is not unique or even difficult compared to what many mothers across the globe deal with. But there you have it. In my world, what I lost were the creature comforts of my former lifestyle. I mourned them.
Then there was the other side of the coin. As the years went by, I realized I had actually gained things that took the place of my losses. These were important things that I may never have learned otherwise.
I gained selflessness. My generally carefree way of living gave birth to a new chapter in the story of my life. There was no room to be selfish. Life literally could not just be all about me anymore. I learned how to give, how to sacrifice, and how to let go of parts of myself that simply weren’t needed. My child had no use for the person I used to be. I had to adapt, evolve, and give in.
I gained responsibility. Holding the treasure of life in your hands and trying not to break it is a hair-raising experience. To feed, clothe, and shelter a human being who can not survive without you is no joke. It’s all on your shoulders. It’s messy, scary, confusing, infuriating, and at the end — rewarding. I found out what I was really made of trying to keep someone else alive.
I gained humility. You learn to laugh at yourself walking around with spit up on your shirt, poop on your finger, breastmilk leaking out, and hair that — let’s face it — hasn’t been washed in days. It’s disgusting to be a mom. But what else can you do but let go of your vanity and embrace the fact that you’re not organized, you’re not perfect, and you’re not even clean anymore.
I gained someone who loves me just for being alive. I received more than a baby girl whom I carried for nine months. I gained a person with curious, bright, blue eyes, little dimples when she smiles, and a heavenly giggle that will melt your ears and heart. I gained companion who watches everything I do and listens to everything I say. I am her absolute truth. I am both her soft place to fall and her guide for learning how not to fall.
I gained motherhood. And I am grateful.
More from Michelle: 6 Life Lessons I’ve Learned Being A Stepmom