A little over five years ago I became a mother. It was something I'd hoped to be for many years prior. It didn't happen straight away and was an emotional battle of sorts. But then it did, and our son was born.
While I longed to become a mother I wasn't quite prepared for what parenthood entailed. But I often wonder; is anyone really prepared for such a change in life?
My love for my son was and is still immense. I feel at times that we experience the world around us in a similar way. That we often feel emotions intensely and sense the feelings of others. While I don't like to presume he is the same as me, and respect he is his own person, there are things that just seem alike.
At the start I perhaps hovered too closely. And it's something I'm learning to pull back from. I've realised that for a child to become confident and resilient, that at times you need to allow them space.
Two years ago we welcomed our daughter. It was a challenge of a whole new kind, for all of us. While before I was so a-tune to my son and his feelings, I was now forced to share those with another. I could no longer give 100% to anything, or anyone. I had to let my perfectionism slide.
What I wasn't prepared for entering parenthood was that I would lose a part of myself. That the quiet time that I crave to reflect, that keeps me centered, would be reduced to a small window. I think that has possibly been the biggest challenge for my husband also. And I observe as a commonality amongst friends who are also now navigating parenthood.
Then begins the gradual comparison between partners over who has more time to themselves. Or who does more than the other. This comparison if not tamed can become a little unhealthy to a relationship. It requires constant reminding that you are in this together as partners, rather than on opposing teams.
This experience of raising children, it's mind-blowing in a sense. To see these little people becoming their own person and discovering the world for themselves is complete joy. To observe them treat another person with kindness fills your heart with pure elation. To notice them teaching their sibling what they have learned is reason enough to create life.
This role we have as parents, it can be the greatest challenge we embark on. It's exhausting beyond comprehension. It's loud, messy and chaotic. We often see in our children a reflection of our own behaviour. And it forces us to practice acceptance and put others beyond ourself.
But this journey... as any parent can vouch for, is an incredible one. It helps us grow stronger within. It opens our eyes to what actually matters in life and encourages us to let all the unnecessary mess and distraction fall by the wayside.
And as I was reminded with the loss of my mother, life will one day end. The everyday moments will become history. A memory that will gently fade.
I've discovered that the details in everyday life are what really matter. That it requires pausing for long enough to allow ourselves to actually notice them. And when we do we experience life. A deep sense of appreciation and gratitude. We feel happiness in its purest and simplest form.