Motherhood: Hitting 6 months

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Motherhood at 6 Months  |  The Fresh Exchange

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Can you believe it has been 6 months?! I was driving to a meeting yesterday morning and it was the first time in about a month or more I have driven alone. It was an hour and a half drive both ways and I had a lot of time to reflect and think about the last 6 months. I thought about all the changes I have gone through not just physically, but emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and egotistically.

A few weeks back I read this quote from Johnna Holmgren’s Instagram:
“As it stands, motherhood is a sort of wilderness through which each woman hacks her way, part martyr, part pioneer; a turn of events from which some women derive feelings of heroism, while others experience a sense of exile from the world they knew.” – Rachel Cusk

I have read these words over and over again and continually feel deeply connected to them. I can name times this experience has made me feel like a hero and times when I still feel as if it pulled me from a world and life I loved. I am still grappling with the latter part on the rough days, and I know it is normal to long for the sort of freedom I used to know especially as an entrepreneur. Most of all I have connected with the idea of motherhood being like a wilderness we must forge our way through like pioneers. Sure millions of women have gone before us finding their way, but it is exactly that: their way. The truth is you can read every book, listen to every girlfriend or experienced mom, but they will give you direction and not the answer. The answers are our own job to find. At the end of the day, you have to figure out what is right for you. You try a lot. You fail a lot. You mess up a lot. You feel lost 90% of the time. You feel overwhelmed more than you care to admit. You feel like you are spending a lot of time wandering through the woods at night just trying desperately to find your way.

As I watch Hayes these days I have a hard time believing it wasn’t so long ago that I held him for the first time, that we bathed him for the first time, that those hard hard days of recovering weren’t that long ago, that I was once without him. Motherhood has been a journey for me. As someone who never was excited about the baby phase and who was honestly quite self-focused on my career, I didn’t know how this time would work for me. There have been big ups and downs and I have talked about them in other posts, but more than anything I look back at photos from the days of pregnancy, birth, and the first few weeks and I see a very different version of myself than I see now. I realize how this little life has changed me in all the best ways. I thought I would lose myself somewhere along the way. Instead, here I am feeling as if I am far more of myself than I ever thought I could be. There were hard times I thought I would never be me again, but as the fog has cleared over the last few months I feel I have a strong handle on who I am becoming in this new role. In all honesty, I like this Megan far better and the journey that has gotten me here.

But I won’t lie to you and tell you that it is really hard being a mom. Possibly the hardest thing I have ever done in my life and then you throw in owning a business and you can feel pretty much like life is impossible some days. I have had many nights I lay in bed scrolling Instagram and seeing other moms who seem to have it all together and I have been hard on myself. I know the truth behind the images on my feed from the recent clingy days and screaming at night to the to-do list for work that continually is left with items that 3 or 10 days past due. I compare myself in ways that isn’t good or fair. Many times it has made me miss out on some great times with Hayes because I feel in some way I am falling behind with my career not realizing that as a result I am missing the most important things with him. More than ever lately I have realized that these precious moments with Hayes at this size are numbered so I am trying as hard as I can to not take one moment for granted. In all honesty, it is hard to remember to do when you are exhausted and don’t always know the answers. It is so hard when you have a to-do list a mile long for work and you feel like your career is falling through the cracks. It is so hard when you feel you see every other woman at your point in this journey seeming to have it all together and more when you feel it is hard to bring your head above the surface enough to get a breath. The balance is harder than I ever expected, but in some ways it is also much easier.

My friend Anna wrote a piece about the comparison game of motherhood and her journey of the last 6 months on her blog. It is a must read for any mom and one I deeply connect with on many levels even though I personally haven’t struggled with PPD or PPA. I have, especially in the first 3 or 4 months, completely off the norm in my mental state at various points in this journey. Anna, our friend Jenn, and I have been in a group text together supporting each other through motherhood for the last year. Over the course of the last year, we have shared the real honest and raw details of our motherhood experiences. We celebrate the big things and little things and support each other without judgment through the hardest things. From sleep issues to postpartum depression to breastfeeding ending sooner than we hoped to finding balance as moms and entrepreneurs to hard physical recoveries to sick spouses to moving to sick babies to first crawls and solid foods. We have shared in it all and without them, I know I would have gone a little crazy. I have seen the importance of friends who are there for you without judgement, who believe the same things, who fight for the same things with their little ones, and are there for you no matter what. I couldn’t be more thankful for these women and the gift we have given to one another even across the country (Anna in NYC and Jenn in Seattle). I look forward to their texts every day and getting some chats about mom life that are just completely honest.

Even in all the struggle that I have worked through as a new mom in the last 6 months, I have never felt more complete in my life. These days his awareness of the world is intoxicating and I know it won’t be much longer before we are chasing him all over. I struggle daily to loosen the reigns enough to let him explore and figure things out without my help knowing it is important for him to have experiences even at this age. I see bits and pieces of who he is and I know it is only going to get better and better. When he lights up my whole world feels like it will explode. I look at him and think how no matter where my career goes and no matter anything else in my life he will forever be my greatest accomplishment. My focus has shifted to want to build a life that is about providing him the greatest life I can and that itself creates so much clarity in life. I feel the desire to chase after things that make me better to surround myself with people who make me better not as much for me, but even more so for him. It is something no one could have prepared me to feel. They could have told me and they did, but now here I know the reality of these statements.

After my long drive for my meetings yesterday, I came home to him and Mike playing on the floor at my parent’s home. When he saw me he smiled and giggled. In that moment the rush of the day all fell away. He, even in the struggles, has continued to be my calm in the storm somehow. I cannot explain it, but when I see him I know everything will be just fine. I am hanging on so hard to all these little moments but looking forward to all the next ones as well.

So other moms, how did you feel at 6 months? Anything trying or hard about this time for you? What has been your favorite part thus far?

PS. Next weeks Working Together is about balancing work and a baby…if you have a question add it below!

Hello! I’m Megan Gilger,

A strong believer that nature and the seasons are our greatest teachers. We live on a hill in Leelanau County, Michigan just a stone’s throw from Lake Michigan. This land we are responsible for is where we are focused on building a life around the seasons and intention. We spend our days here building a regenerative model of living and focusing our garden on native plants and intensive polyculture planting styles. My focus is less on self-sufficiency and more on community-sufficiency through how we grow and connect through the seasons.
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