The Natural Losses of Motherhood

hHeLlR1433446188When we become mothers we gain so much but we lose so much too. There are many losses and here I am not talking about some awful events but rather the natural process of being a mum to ever changing children.

The obvious gains and losses are that we have the addition of our new children but we lose the life we had before. We also learn so much but we have to forgo many of the freedoms of being independent and child free. There is, however, more to it than that.

At a deeper level, we become aware as mothers how love and loss are closely tied together. When we love, we risk loss. But it is more than that. Much more.

When we love we risk loss Click To Tweet

We can never hold on to the moment. Time just ticks by and those things that we hold dear, naturally change. This is the wonderful but often difficult process of life. Nothing is ever static and this is never more obvious than with children. Whilst there is so much joy in watching them grow and develop, we can also experience a sense of loss. Loss at the rate of change. We love them so much that we want to hold onto them in that moment. For example, a baby at one month is so different from a baby at six months and sometimes that is a relief but sometimes we can feel sad about moving past each stage.

For me, when my son was nine months old I became acutely aware that the process of growth and development was happening so quickly. I had gone from feeling (in the early days) like everything was changing so slowly, to realising that he was growing out of being a baby and that I would never have that time back again. I wrote this when it was happening…

I can’t really remember him as a newborn baby and that worries me. My son is eating right now. He has stew on his chin and he is stuffing a large piece of melon in his mouth whilst bouncing backwards and forwards in his chair. There are peas and sweet corn everywhere. He is so incredibly beautiful to me that I want to believe I will never forget this. I look at him at times and my heart almost aches with love. But he is growing up so quickly and that has been brought home to me today. There is part of me that wants to slow him down but there is also a part of me that loves to see him grow and develop.

So many mothers speak of this feeling of loss, if not in so many words but in their actions and facial expressions. I mentioned to another mum at school how much her daughter was changing and her face scrunched up, as if to say ‘I know and it is happening too fast’.

Of course, there is no way of slowing the pace that our children grow and change and, in fact, we probably wouldn’t really want to. We want them to live and grow and develop into happy adults. But sometimes, just sometimes, that can feel sad too. To no longer have a baby, or a toddler, or a pre-schooler, whatever stage they have gone through that we enjoyed. Or it may be more subtle than that, for example

  • Stopping breast or bottle feeding with all that wonderful eye contact.
  • To no longer have those moments to cuddle them whilst carrying them from place to place.
  • To no longer be able to kiss them because it is not cool anymore
  • To find that they would rather read their own book than have a story read to them.

Of course we are pleased that they are moving on, walking, talking, have their own opinions and are really into a good book but….(long sigh). I guess the thing is to know that with each change there are losses but there are also gains. We are allowed to feel nostalgic and sad, but that too will pass because nothing ever stays the same.

I would love to hear your feelings on this topic. Do you find that you have mixed emotions as your children grow and change? What things do you feel the loss of the most?

So what is next?

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30 thoughts on “The Natural Losses of Motherhood

    1. Thank you for your kind words Ellie. I am glad this post has touched something in you. We all experience losses as parents even though we know they are good. Thank you for visiting The Guilt Free Guide

  1. I have often felt this way. I had 3 babies in 3 years and it seemed like for the longest time I just wanted them to hurry up and wipe their own butts! Now that they all do I try to remember having 3 in diapers. Maybe it’s something my mind has chosen to block out but I really can’t remember changing 3 baby’s diapers all day everyday. I think mostly I just lived in a fog back then but now am totally aware that they have turned into toddlers what seems like overnight. Great post and I am popping over from #TwinklyTuesday 😉
    Trista recently posted…Dear EveryoneMy Profile

    1. Thanks Trista. Like you there is so much in that I thought I would never forget but have. It is amazing really but I put it down to being so in tune with where my children are right now. It all passes so quickly with hindsight (may not feel like ut at the time). Thank you for commenting on The Guilt Free Guide

  2. Totally totally get this. It’s such a fine line between wanting them to grow up and hit all their milestones and being proud of their achievements and wanting time to stand still because it’s all going way too fast and you want to remember these moments forever. With my fist I couldn’t wait until she hit her next milestone but looking back I can’t believe how fast it went. She is nearly 18 now! So when my son (3) and my daughter (16 months) both turned one it was a very very sad day for me and I wanted to cry.
    Unhinged Mummy (aka Janine Woods) recently posted…Sanctimommies: Why The Judgement?My Profile

    1. Hi Janine, You are so right talking about that ‘fine line’. Like you I did not realise how quickly they grow up with my first child and I am so proud yet sad that the time has gone forever. Thanks For commenting and visiting the Guilt Free Guide.

    1. Oh Congratulations. 2 1/2 weeks Wow. I remember that at that age they seem to change before your eyes sometimes. Certainly week to week there are changes. Thanks for visiting The Guilt Free Guide, Stacey. Good luck with Olivia.

    1. Hi Sian, Thanks for visiting The Guilt Free Guide. Well my nose is getting tingly just reading your comment. My boys are 9 and 6 and believe me I continue to find them amazing.

  3. What a wonderful post. Your right, I feel like I’ve forgotten my baby daughter in those early days as a newborn (who is now one) and even worse my son (who is now 5). They are both such a joy in such different ways. Each stage is special in its own way. It is so sad knowing they are growing up so fast, it’s a privilege and a pleasure to watch. I could relive the last 5 years over and over (think I’ve forgotten some really tough times!) but it’s life and parenting is hard on the heart x
    Mrs Puddleducky recently posted…My Weekly Happy List: Week 15My Profile

    1. Hi Jess. Raising children creates so many emotional contradictions. I love your words ‘parenting is hard on the heart’. That is so true and as your comment suggests, it is also amazing for our hearts. As mothers (and Dads) we hold so many feelings. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  4. I could have written his myself, perhaps not as beautifully though. I can relate so much because I just remember wishing the days away when L was first born. Waiting and willing those milestones only to look back and wish I hadn’t. I have forgotten a lot of what I wanted to remember. Of course we are making new memories, we have new challenges but like you say things will change again soon enough. #MMWBH
    The L’s Mum recently posted…Are you JUST a mum then?My Profile

    1. Thanks for the compliment. It is an ever evolving process. I think we get ourselves so in tune with where our children are at any point in time (which is important) that we do forget. Great to have you adding to this discussion.

  5. Aww this is beautiful, makes me nearly well up just reading it. We have four so I can see all the different stages in them at this point, but as our youngest and last is now well and truly a toddler, I cried that it was over, no more babies. I am not usually emotional, but man, being a Mum changes all that… at the same time like you say, with our 9 year old, I can see that I’m gaining a best friend. I dread the day of no more kisses and cuddles, and hopefully the grandbabies will come not too long after that or at least some nieces and nephews (I don’t have any at the moment). This is wonderfully articulated xxx great post #sharewithme
    Alexandra @dontcallmestepmummy recently posted…{Love Letters to our Little Ones} – Happy 18 Months Eden (our first vlogging experience)My Profile

    1. Thank you Alexandra. there are those losses and gains all at once aren’t there. the relationships we have with them do evolve and change so much as they change. Realising that there will be no more babies for me either really pulls at my heart strings. I am okay with it but it feels like letting go of something so valuable. Great comment. Wishing you nieces, nephews and grandchildren!

    1. There is so much special with kids. At age nine and six I can honestly say that my boys still bring me so much delight but there is those twinges of loss that I will not have them as little ones again. Thanks for your input Megan.

    1. Thanks for your comment. It is the challenge of life in general but it is so noticeable with children.

  6. A lovely post! It can be a mixed bag of emotion as they move from one stage to the next, but I definitely try to enjoy the present rather than feeling too emotional about the stage we have just left behind. It is weird that at 2 years old I find I can barely remember what she was like as a baby anymore – how strange – but I guess that’s just a product of living in the moment. #sharewithme

    1. Hi Talya, you are so right. I feel that my boys have me very focussed on where they are at any one time. so much so that I forget a lot of what has happened. It is only when i read other peoples posts about their children that things buried in my mind resurface, which is very pleasant. Thanks for your comment. Much appreciated.

  7. Gosh — I absolutely relate to this! I waited a long time for my babies — it took 8 years almost for me to be a mother — and I’ve tried to hold on to every second but it goes SO fast!! All these milestones being ticked off. I wish time would slow down a bit! The baby years have already gone — and they’ve only just turned 2! Thanks so much for linking up with #TwinklyTuesday

    Caro |
    Caro | The Twinkles Mama recently posted…Home Etc #1 — Home and Garden Inspired Blog HopMy Profile

    1. Hi Caro, I can see how you would want to hold on to every bit of it. There is so much joy in seeing them grow up of course. I can be walking along with my boys and feel so proud I might burst but at times I feel a loss of those early years. Thanks for commenting.

  8. Oh there really is so many different stages of feeling at loss as our children grow up. I am so emotional over toddler starting school in september and baby going to nursery two days a week soon. EEEk. Thank you so much for linking up to Share With Me. Hope to see you again tomorrow. #sharewithme
    jenny recently posted…Letters to him & her ~ #21My Profile

    1. It is so strange because we can at once feel so proud of a child going to school, for example, and feel a loss too. It brings up such varied and often contradictory emotions. I felt the same, particularly with school. It is such a big mile stone and a change to your life as well as theirs. It invites space for new things to enter our lives though. We often don’t know what they will be beforehand though so it is hard to imagine. Thanks for your comment.

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