Written by Carlita Albertse

motherhood | family

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7 Feb, 2023

My daughter turned 1, which seems completely unbelievable to me. But also feels in a way, like we made it to some kind of parenting milestone. And when I think back on my year as a mom, there have been so many highs and lows on the journey that I sometimes can’t believe we’ve made it this far. I know our first year has been the hardest of my life, but it has also been my happiest. I wish I could say that becoming a mom was perfectly blissful to me, but that wasn’t my reality at all. And I’ve learned that it’s okay to talk about that. I certainly don’t want my daughter one day to go into motherhood thinking that it’s all moonshine and roses. Motherhood is different for everyone, and it comes with a lot of challenges.

For me it was riddled with difficult moments, but what followed were some of the most incredibly profound blissful times of my life. 

On one hand I literally spent every second of every day just staring at my baby and holding her. I am a first-time mom who refuses to put her baby down and quite frankly, no one in our family was ever able to infiltrate my tight grasp on her. I was selfish and just didn’t want to miss a single moment of holding her. 

To me motherhood is a journey unlike any other and regardless of what my expectations were prior to becoming a mom and what my life looks like now, the first year of motherhood was an incredible ride for me. From anxiety and anticipation of birth recovery, learning how to care for a newborn, the wild high of finally figuring something out, the intense lows of being knocked back on your ass by the next phase. My first year of motherhood was all consuming. I always heard other moms talk about how difficult it is, but before becoming a mom there’s just no way to anticipate what it will be like. I spent years caring for other people’s newborns, infants, and toddlers, so if anyone was going to be a natural it was me (SO I THOUGHT) oh how little did I know, but oh, how much I’ve learned. 

Lilly’s first year taught me that time is fleeting with our little ones. As the adage goes, the days are long, but the years are short. 

The tiny person you start the year with and the toddler with an ever-developing personality you end the year with shows just how much changes in a year and just how incredible human development is at that age. This helpless newborn slowly but steadily grows into a participating person in your life and member of your family – making you laugh, playing games, showing interests and dislikes, learning to walk, talk and do everything that will make them the person they’re going to become. Boy did she become that person very fast…I keep on looking at her baby pictures and I ask myself when did this child have the time to grow so much, you were just my baby yesterday. That is how it feels. 




And laughter again

Excitement (look what she just did) fyi the memory on my phone is so full because I want to capture EVERYTHING.

Boooooredom – Rolling a lemon back and forth in the darkness of the morning with my eyes still very much shut back and forth, back and forth….in the attempt to tire her out so that we can just at least sleep until morning breaks, or pappa wakes up for work. Listening to johny johny yes pappa for the millionth time because Lilly has decided that 2 or 3 times is not enough…at work dad sings the lullaby without noticing it himself. Lol and we know every single word and every rhyme.

So much change. So much routine. Family bonding.

Isolation from friends, (I am the kind of mom that feels like I am the only one in this world that can keep my child safe and happy, so I would much rather stay home with my homie, its okay we can put on Johny Johny.lol

Confidence. Uncertainty. Slow. Fast

So fast. Too fast (if you know, you know)

However they are not the only ones changing. The women I was last year and the women I am now are vastly different. My priorities have shifted: my relationships have changed, how I choose to spend my time, the things I find joy in,  it’s all so different. It’s a lot simpler in many ways, the joy of a morning family walk, and more complex, raising a human.

I won’t lie, it was a tough transition, one you cannot expect or prepare for; one that caught me so off guard, I was  in tears one afternoon when my daughter was probably about one month old, mourning the loss and letting go of the woman I was before. It’s an important goodbye to make that nobody could have prepared me for. I had to really experience it and feel the shift to recognize that the woman I once was and the path that I’m now on are worlds apart. 

All that is left to do is to embrace it – and everything feels so much easier. More joyful. What felt like long or even difficult moments became short and I wish to absorb every second before it’s over.

My confidence as a mother grew. My relationship with my daughter felt stronger, and we were able to find our way on this journey together. No matter how many friends you talk to or how much advice you receive (solicited or unsolicited), you can’t know until you live through it yourself. 

If I’ve learned anything in these 12 months:

We all experience year one of motherhood (and every year after that) differently. 

My highs and lows will be so vastly different from yours. 

We can share our experiences, but it’s a huge disservice to ourselves and our little one to compare them. 

My baby and my experience with feeding, sleep training, traveling, play-time, teething, socializing, activities, all of it, is uniquely ours. 

So, I’ve learned not to compare, and not to ask. 

I’ve learned to take every bit of unsolicited advice with a grain of salt.

Because it doesn’t matter what worked for them, it in no way implies what will work for us. We’re on this journey together, Lilly, daddy and I. It is uniquely ours. 

And it is going much toooo fast.


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