I Forgot How to Love Her: a Mother’s Reawakening

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I don’t know how to write about this without sounding like and feeling like a truly terrible mother. 

I know that lately, there have been a lot of posts and articles from moms (myself included) reassuring mothers that they are good moms to their kids. So I want to share this experience in the light that I am human and have realized a behavior of mine that is so disappointing to me. And also to share how I realized it and what’s changed with the hopes that you’ll find encouragement and tenderness where you’ve been feeling frustration and distance.

I lie in bed with my almost 2-year-old, nursing her to sleep as I always do, after a particularly clingy and frustrating evening with her. I try to think of ways to pass the time until I can detach from her and go about the chores and homework I’ve been trying to accomplish around her incessant needs. I remember the lullaby I wrote for her. As I sing it to her hoarsely, suddenly my mind transports me to the rocking chair by the sunlit window where I first sang this tune to her. She was nursing then too. And as I feel those memories wash over me with great sadness and nostalgia, I realize that what I felt in those moments have been foreign to me for some time now.

Immediately I search my mind for the moment when I forgot how much I love my daughter.

When I stopped wanting to be attached to her every second of the day. When I felt more frustration than adoration towards her mannerisms and needs. When I forgot that my whole world revolves around her, and nothing has ever fulfilled me more than this reality. When? And more importantly, how? How could I have looked at her tearful eyes and heard her high pitched whine and forgotten how small she is and how much she needs me? How could I have forgotten that the precious newborn on my desktop is the same bold bright and boisterous toddler on my breast now? When did I get so callous…

As these thoughts roll through my body like repeating tidal waves crashing, I cry. I say out loud to my daughter how much I truly love her. How precious she is to me and always has been. I confess that my life has always been about becoming her momma, and there is no other place I’d rather be than right here with her. I tell her how sorry I am for forgetting that she is my light, my rainbow, my other half. I snuggle in closer and tuck her legs up so we fit just right. And I hold her like I used to. I can see her sleepy eyes looking at me as if to say, “I love you too Momma. I knew you’d remember.” All the pent-up frustration and whining has been a desperate cry from my baby to feel her momma’s affection. She’s always known how to make me slow down and remember her littleness. I kiss her forehead with tenderness and desperation.

I stay there with her long after she has fallen asleep and unlatched. 

I share this experience because it so rocked my world as a mother. I think I stopped feeling the love when I got caught up with meeting expectations I felt society placed on me and my child. When most of my friends had weaned already so I thought I should probably start working on that too. When I felt people pitying me for feeling sad to spend any time away from my kid. When I forgot that Moira and I are a unique set with unique needs. When I forgot, I need her as much as she needs me. 

Have you ever felt like you forgot how to love your child? Or had a re-awakening to your love of them? How did you feel about it?

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Karli Haviland
I am a Flagstaff local from toddlerhood. I went to FALA for high school and graduated from NAU with a BA in Secondary English Education. I married my high school sweetheart, and together we’re building our life with our toddler Moira, whom I stay at home with full time. My passion is working with pregnant people during their journey to and through birth and post partum as a birth doula and birth photographer, and I work with another doula in town to provide those services to the Flagstaff community. I dance and perform with a Modern Dance company several times a year, and I teach baby & me music and dance classes around town weekly. I enjoy reading, hiking with friends, and playing Zelda in my spare time.