When my son was first born, I was lost.

I knew my life would change when I became a mother—but I never fathomed exactly how much.

I was pregnant. There was a tiny human being growing inside of me. I felt it kick. I felt it hiccup. I had heartburn and back pain. Overall, my pregnancy was amazing. I gained about 36 pounds and was able to work and remain active through my third trimester.

I knew my due date was growing near. I knew that morning when I went to the hospital for my C-section that I would come home about 20 pounds lighter with a new addition to our family.

I knew all this—so why was I so taken off guard when my son was actually born?

I instantly became the most important person in this little meatball’s world. When he cried, I responded. When he was hungry, I fed him. When he was dirty, I changed him. I was a slave to an 8-pound bundle.

And I was completely lost.

My husband had returned to work shortly after we came home from the hospital. A full-time police officer, he was given three weeks off from work. Unfortunately, my husband was also a business owner and he returned to his post the Monday after our son was born. Not only had my world changed overnight, but now I was alone.

I felt like a robot. I slept. I fed. I burped. I rocked. I changed. I slept. I was on a hamster wheel. Could it have been a minor case of postpartum depression? Possibly. But I was mostly just in shell-shock.

How did this happen?

I wasn’t prepared for motherhood and I certainly wasn’t prepared for being a single mom. No, my husband didn’t leave me, technically—but he was absent 90 percent of the time.

I was slipping into a dark place that I didn’t know how to escape. I didn’t think motherhood would be this way. But that’s probably because I didn’t stop to think before deciding to have my son.

Trust me, I do realize how ridiculous that sounds to most people : “What do you mean you didn’t think about how motherhood would alter your universe?” I don’t have a logical explanation for the fact that I didn’t calculate how much having a baby would affect the world I once knew, but I didn’t. And the day I brought my son home from the hospital I had only one thought: “Oh my god, I really have to do this now.”

Here I was—a mother with an infant and I needed to figure it out. I needed to find something to bring me back to reality.

I tried meditation. I took a few moments to myself each morning to breathe, calm my mind and body and set an intention for my day. It worked, for a little while. When the meditation buzz wore off, I researched how to balance chakras to help with the flow of energy in my body and my overall wellness. This helped too, but it was short-term.

I told my husband about my struggle but he wasn’t equipped to handle it. He told me he needed to work to support our family and that I could leave him if I wanted too. That wasn’t the answer I wanted or needed. My husband and I navigated our way through our struggles. We had several transitions, obstacles, and moments of clarity. We went to therapy and we worked hard to come out the other side.

As my son grew a little older, things became easier. I accepted my role as mother and embraced it. Once I did this, things began to change.

I discovered my purpose in life. I saw the way my son looked at me for guidance and direction. I quickly realized I was learning from him as much as he was from me.

It’s amazing what your children can teach you about life and yourself.

When you become a mother, your first instinct is to guide, teach, and support your child in every way. And that feeling never fades. Neither does your overwhelming sense of protection. I didn’t know how much motherhood would change me. I didn’t know exactly what to expect and I surely didn’t expect to learn from my child.

But my son has taught me so much about who I really am. He’s helped me see what truly matters in life.

I’ve learned about selflessness and unconditional love. I’ve discovered what true worry and concern is. I now understand what people mean when they say, “I would die for you.” I’ve let go of negativity and welcome only positive people and things into my world.

I see how my mood, demeanor, and behaviors impact my son’s world. I know that I need to be the absolute best version of myself because he’s always watching.

My son is who he is because of me. I have shaped the person he has become and that will forever be one of my greatest accomplishments in life.

I wonder if one day, my son will see that he’s helped shape who I am too.

Featured Photo Courtesy: Swaraj Tiwari via Unsplash