It’s still strange to think of myself as a mother.
In a month, my son will be 1 year old, and it’s somewhat inconceivable I’ve managed to keep him alive when every plant I’ve ever owned has seen the bottom of a trashcan after three months.
In almost a year, I’ve learned more than I could have ever prepared myself for.
I’ve learned I can survive on little to absolutely no sleep. I’ve learned that regardless of the size, color or incredible stench, poop will wash out of almost anything — almost.
I’ve learned that asking questions or seeking advice on any social media platform is a big mistake, and pediatricians are very understanding when you break down in their office, exhausted, scared and overwhelmed.
I’ve also learned about myself.
I’ve learned that motherhood isn’t some palpable change you’re powerless to stop. It’s a side of you that can be created, altered and uniquely shaped to fit you and the needs of your growing family.
I’ve learned that I am far more capable than I’ve ever believed myself to be.
And I’ve learned I have so much more to learn.
Thankfully, I can look around at the Millennial mothers I share this journey with, and continue to better myself as a person, a woman and a mom to an almost 1 year old.
Martyrdom is not motherhood.
Millennial mothers are showing society the undeniable importance of self-care.
They do not consider themselves sacrificial lambs, and they refuse to lay down their careers, their sanity, even their bodies on the alter of perceived perfection.
While they love their children beyond comprehension and are willing to do what it takes to ensure they’re safe, happy and thriving, they know they’re useless to them if they do not first take care of their own minds, bodies and souls.
A mother is not a doormat or stepping stone for her family and their future.
She is the foundation, a pivotal pillar, and as such, she must be tended to, cared for and constantly examined.
Parenting responsibilities are shared.
Millennial mothers are reminding society that it takes two to tango, and the dance doesn’t stop when you leave the labor and delivery room.
They’re demanding a true partnership, where the give and take is as mutual as the act that spawned their screaming offspring.
Just because they carried the baby, birthed the baby and have the necessary parts to feed the baby, doesn’t mean women are the only ones responsible for the baby.
A mother is not the only provider of love, care and admiration.
She is not the only one responsible for late-night feedings and diaper changes. She is half of a whole parenting team, and she expects her partner to act accordingly.
There’s always a choice.
Millennial mothers are telling society they deserve a choice, and that choice is theirs and theirs alone.
Women are deciding when to have babies, how to have their babies, why they’re having babies and how they’re raising their babies.
Motherhood is becoming less and less an inevitable happenstance and, instead, a conscious decision.
A mother is simply a woman who has made a life decision, and regardless of any one person’s judgment, belief system or specific choices, that decision isn’t anyone else’s business.
Parenthood isn’t about perfection.
Millennial mothers are more than willing to let society know they aren’t perfect. They make mistakes regularly and don’t have picture-perfect homes.
They don’t resemble a board on Pinterest and they don’t greet their honey with a kiss, a hardy meal and flawless makeup every evening.
They struggle to keep up with the responsibilities life seems to easily and mercilessly throw at them. They falter from time to time, just like anyone else.
A mother is flawed; she’s human. She’s not the superwoman we desperately try to make her out to be. And that is a beautiful, unbelievably good thing.
Life’s in the little things.
Millennial mothers are showing society that the rat race we perceive ourselves to be part of is nothing but a discombobulating illusion.
Life isn't about the milestones we've attached to success, somehow used to prove we're adults or responsible or happy.
Life is about the small, seemingly insignificant moments that embed themselves in the corners of our minds.
It's about an exhausted snuggle at 3 in the morning after an hour and a half of crying, when the fatigue of parenthood plays second fiddle to the fulfillment.
It's about thoughtless kisses and sincere hugs and a fleeting look, meant for you and only you because you're the only you they'll ever know.
It's about slow dances in living rooms and morning giggles before leaving bed.
It's about the boundless personal growth that can happen in one single year, which still leaves you contemplating how strange it is you're a mother.
So when I'm wondering how it's at all possible I've kept my child alive for almost a year, I look around at the Millennial mothers I share this journey with, and realize I'm learning, growing, evolving and nurturing my almost 1 year old not just because of them, but because I am one of them.
And I still have so much more to learn.