Since having my son in March, I have had many people ask me a well-intended but completely loaded question: Are you so happy to be a mom? I mean, what am I supposed to say to that? For better or for worse, I don’t have the ability to hide my emotions. I wear them right out there for all to see, and this question always makes me pause. Finally, a few weeks ago, I was able to pinpoint a response that felt true and real. Having a baby is the most intense personal growth experience that I have ever gone through.

I thought I knew what this would be like, but I had no idea. I am an older mom, so I have had many years of freedom, spontaneity and uninterrupted sleep. Our little guy is a good sleeper, and even then, there have been periods where I thought I might have been getting depressed, only to realize I just needed a block of dreamy sleep. Going to the store on my own has never felt so freeing, and moments of silence are as good as gold.

Being a mom is a new phase in life, and with that there is an adjustment period. Before having him, I didn’t put much thought in how I would feel. I just figured I would have him and feel like a mom. But I didn’t. I still felt like I did the day before having him and this was confusing to me at first. I kept thinking; shouldn’t I be loving every piece of this process? Shouldn’t I be suddenly knitting baby blankets and making organic baby food? Well that isn’t my truth, and I have judged myself for that. This new relationship has taken my world and shaken it upside down.

But once I put this in self-development terms, it has made a lot of sense. There is a letting go of the way that life used to look like, and an emerging of a new self. Becoming a mother doesn’t happen by giving birth. It happens in the nights of holding your baby close while praying he goes to sleep. It happens in the endless hours of playing on the floor and reading him books. It happens in the smiles he gives, and the adorable giggles that light my heart. It happens in the tearful nap times (for the both of us!). And it happens when I look at him and realize that my heart is now outside of my body, and the thought of him being hurt strikes my soul with fear.

So, if you are a new parent and are feeling a bit wobbly, give yourself some grace. This is a complete shift in your life, and it’s OK to not be OK! There is enough going on, and to add self-judgement is like trying to carry a 20-ton boulder. Trust in the process and know that this child has come to you to teach you more about yourself then you probably wanted to know. Like all things worthwhile, there will be times when you want to quit or when you have been pushed to your limit. It’s in those moments that you give yourself some love!

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Kate Messmer Jessup is a spiritual coach. You can contact her at contactme@peaceofkate.com or find out more about her services at www.peaceofkate.com.