Becoming a mother is the most profound and indescribable thing compared to anything that has happened in my life ever before. On the day I found out I was pregnant, I knew I was in for an adventure of a lifetime. What I wasn’t prepared for was how unexpected this adventure is going to be and how much I’m going to learn from it.
Overall I had a good pregnancy. First trimester was bearable, second was the best, and even though the last three months were a bit dramatic, my daughter was finally born safe and sound. I honestly thought giving birth was the hardest part there is. Oh boy, how wrong I was.
The first two weeks were rough. I felt the worst I’ve ever been, cried day and night, and was afraid of the baby. My head was all over the place. I didn’t want to meet anyone and was quite close to giving up both on the child and on life. It’s a feeling I can’t quite describe and I was pretty sure I’m going crazy. That was when I finally sought help from my family and here comes lesson number one. It’s really okay to be honest about your strength, your feelings. It's okay to cry out loud and just fall apart. It's okay to admit being weak, to ask for help, for support. Don't deny it. Embrace whatever terrible emotions you have inside, grieve, scream, release, and let it go. Then, you can look back and see how you've survived.
After enduring the baby blues period, came the mundane days of nursing, changing, bathing, carrying, and cleaning after the baby. Before my daughter was born, I worked full-time and the hours of the day really flew by. Now, to shift from a fast-paced life to one so slow is quite a challenge for me. Not to mention the waking hours of the night when baby refused to sleep, I have to bear those too. In this time of life, I really felt what it’s like to live the whole 24 hours of each day. It’s not long that I find myself wishing for this baby to grow up. Fast. I kept on counting days and hoped that it would be over soon. But life doesn’t work that way. In this case the only way out is through, and I have to deal with it. Honestly speaking, I’m still learning to love the process, to use patience to go through each and every second, hour and day and appreciate it for what it’s worth. Hence, lesson number two is to be in the moment and be grateful. Because this too shall pass and if I’m not present, I will miss it even when it’s right in front of me.
"Be in the moment and be grateful. Because this too shall pass and if I’m not present, I will miss it even when it’s right in front of me."
Days go by and when my daughter is two months old, came this question from those around me, “Are you going back to work?” Apparently, some people have plenty of opinions when it comes to this. They would say, “You should stay home and dedicate yourself fully to take care of the child.” While some others, “Having a child is expensive. If you don’t work full time, how are you going to pay for everything?” As for me, the amount of attention I received about this matter is quite overwhelming and when I haven’t even had time to think about it, how can others already suggest what’s best for me and my family?
Aside from what everyone says, I knew this decision would have a major impact on many things in my family’s future. It’s true that both options have their own weak and strong points, but one thing for sure, none of them is a wrong choice. A mother has the right and freedom to decide what works best for herself and her family. With so many aspects to weigh, we need to believe that when a mother makes a decision, it is already well-considered and thought of. If you’re concerned about the well-being of her child if she goes back to work, or the well-being of her household finances if she stops working, believe me, she is the first person to worry about these things even before you do. Lesson number three, the wise thing to do is offer support. No mother’s journey is the same and aren’t we all just moms looking to survive each day? Comparing, belittling or what we thought as a harmless joke can hurt more than we know, so let’s just be kind to each other.
As for me, instead of choosing between the two options, finally I’m taking both. I proposed working part-time to Kania and she helped me make an arrangement that was beneficial for the company and myself. This way I would be able to stay productive but can oversee my daughter for most of the day. Now my first day back at the office was wonderful. I don’t know how to say this without making it sound bad, but having time away from my kid gave me the bittersweet freedom I didn’t know I needed. It was great to get out of the house, to be productive and get back to doing what I used to. I finally feel like myself again. This is how I learn lesson number four, aside from being someone's mother, a woman is her own self. It’s true that the title of a mother is an honor and one we will hold on to for the rest of our lives. But a woman’s identity is not her children as well a child’s identity is not her mother’s. Both the mother and the child have the freedom to choose who they want to be, both dependent and independent of each other.
"A woman’s identity is not her children as well a child’s identity is not her mother’s. Both the mother and the child have the freedom to choose who they want to be, both dependent and independent of each other."
Now that I’m back to work, I feel life with my daughter is changing. I used to be with her all day all night, and now because we are sometimes separated I was scared that she will drift apart from me. There were times I doubted if I had made the right decision by working again. But then, comes lesson number five. My recent conversation with Mikuni from Parkdrive really helped set my perspective. She said, "every time away from the children is time away from the children, so we have to make sure that it’s worthwhile." And it really inspired me. When we do our best, our kids will see it as something to look up to in the future. Also, I believe something done with a sincere heart and good intentions will bear good fruit. When you have faith and start each day with a prayer, everything will somehow fall into place. When my daughter grows up, she will still know that I'm her mother. And hopefully by doing the best I can in whatever I choose to do, I can set a good example and she can take pride in becoming my daughter as I'm proud to be her mom.
"I believe something done with a sincere heart and good intentions will bear good fruit."
Today, I am still juggling to find balance and harmony in my own journey as a mother and I am sure there will be more things I learn by becoming a mother to my daughter. Because truly, there are things about life and about yourself that you will never learn unless you become a parent. These five lessons are just a tiny bit of so many more things my daughter has taught me within her 5 months of life. It amazes and scares me at the same time how intense, extensive and important this is. What a privilege it is to become someone's mother.
I can honestly say that there are days when my outlook about motherhood isn’t always this positive. But I guess that's the thing about being human, no one is at their best at all times. What matters is how we respond to the situation and how we keep on going even after we fall. As for me, I want to delve deeper into this role and embrace it in its entirety. Hopefully this connection, this love will grow stronger and it will reward us with mutual fulfillment of being bonded as mother and daughter, forever.
Text by Karina Leviani
Photographs by Reita Devita
Creative Direction by Michelle Ariella & Kania Anggiani