Sitting on my sofa, looking disheveled and overcome by an exhaustion-induced haze, I listened as my baby composed music with his sensory play mat. The gentle ringing of bells, the soft crackle of crinkle paper, the occasional peep of a squeaky toy, and the irregular beat of a rattle melded in the mists of my new mommy mind to create a sweet symphonic serenade that put a smile in my soul. Small moments of peace like this one brought me intense joy as a new mom. I reveled in the daily discoveries my little one was making, from realizing that his own toes were great for teething to learning that he could meow back at our 14-year-old cat. And yet, I was also flabbergasted by how topsy-turvy my life felt at times as a new mom. My sleep schedule was predictably unpredictable, my postpartum body felt eerily unfamiliar, and my work life seemed like a distant memory that was barreling down on me as my maternity leave wore on. All the while, I was falling more and more in love with the precious new life that had turned mine upside down.
It can be admittedly difficult to maintain some sense of normalcy as you are wading through murky waters of dirty diapers, midnight feedings, and mood swings. In my first few months as a new mom, I struggled to find moments of joy in some of the daily domestic drudgery that had come to define my life, but I also regret not fully appreciating those first few months with my little one. It didn't occur to me in the moment that those months would slip through my fingers like sand, with a few grains lingering on my skin as reminders of the memories made and the parenting lessons learned. One of the lessons that has stuck with me now that a little time has passed is that recognizing joy where you least expect it as a new mom is vital to keeping sane, living in the moment, and enjoying time with your new baby.
While breastfeeding poses unique challenges and can even be painful, it is one of the aspects of motherhood that has afforded me the most joy. Nursing my baby allows me ample opportunities to cuddle with him anytime he is hungry. The rest and respite I find in these pauses throughout the day are invaluable, and the oxytocin my body releases to get my milk flowing makes these precious bonding moments almost euphoric. Cuddles with a hungry baby have the potential to provoke stress, but if I keep my cool, they can also be downright blissful.
I have definitely been guilty of trying to be supermom, holding myself to almost impossible standards, and allowing myself to be disappointed when I don't live up to these self-imposed expectations. Gracefully adjusting to the ups and downs of life as a parent, managing finances, keeping the house neat and tidy, doing all the grocery shopping, cooking inventive and exciting meals, and making time for self-care while taking care of a new baby are amazing feats for even the most organized of moms. It's been tough trying not to be a perfectionist (I'm sure that's something I will grapple with for the rest of my life), so I am making an effort to find joy in the smallest victories throughout my day. Cleaning the kitchen or getting a load of laundry done give me reason to celebrate!
What gives me even more joy is babywearing while doing these daily activities (except for cooking for safety reasons, of course). Doing the dishes is all the more worth it if I can give my little one a kiss on the head anytime the fancy strikes. Babywearing is also a source of joy during one of my absolute favorite parts of the day — our family walk. My arms enjoy the break, and feeling my little one move, breathe, and react to some of the sights and sounds of our local park gladdens my heart and lightens my step. Ultimately, I think seeking the silver lining in some of the more difficult or dreary parts of the day as a new mom can inspire joy when you least expect it, and it makes savoring the smallest moments and memories that much easier.