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  • Writer's pictureRachel Bennett

I’m a New Mommy!

I surely hope you didn’t read this and think that it’s a pregnancy announcement, because that would be big news to you and me both! In a way, I’m a totally different mom that I thought I would ever be…. COULD ever be. Yesterday I had the most amazing experience as a mom. Tears are coming up in my eyes as I’m typing this because I’m just so absolutely humbled to be in the place where I am right now. First let me tell you what I did, and I’ll explain a bit more why it’s such an important and pivotal moment.

Yesterday, my husband and I took my son, Orren, and his two besties to an interactive aquarium and animal sanctuary. First, let me stop right there. Because seriously this place was so cool! They got to hang with all types of animals and feed them. We had planned to give all three kids a super awesome time with no limits. We even signed them up to get in the big tank with all the sting rays, eels, sharks, and other fish to do an up close snuba experience. Kids being kids, things didn’t go exactly as planned. The water was super cold, and the poor littles just couldn’t get past that to enjoy themselves. I could see that they were so upset at the thought of bumming out Orren. And honestly, I think Orren was feeling a little timid about being the only one in the tank. He’s not a fan of all eyes being on him so I could feel his anxiety coming up. So, without hesitation, I asked the instructor if I could take a spot and hop in the water with him. No issues and about 10 minutes later I was suited up and ready to hop in. (The kids were right….. it was stupid cold) The only thing I can really remember from then on is just watching my son have the best time. He was completely stress free all because I was in the water with him. He was comfortable and brave. He was all over the tank like it was second nature. I don’t even remember swimming. I just remember watching him and so thankful that I could have the chance at a memory like that.

In a moment I went from the mama cheering from the side to let my kiddo make a memory with his friends to jumping right beside him when things didn't go totally as planned. 5 years ago, I wouldn't have been able to do this. 5 years ago, the only option was to sit on the side. I probably wouldn't have fit into a wetsuit or have had the energy. Or even had the mindset that this was something I could do. And I never want the option of sitting out on the sidelines to be the only option. And it’s not because I don’t want to be left behind. It’s not because I have a fear of missing out. It’s because I know what it feels like to be that 11-year-old kid whose mom wanted to be a part of the whole experience, but her health wouldn’t let her.

I distinctly remember going on vacation in the Smoky Mountains and we spend a day hiking. My mom was always a larger woman. She wasn’t very healthy. But man, she loved her family, so she’d try anything. I never heard her complain, but what I did hear her say a few times, “Y’all go ahead, I’ll catch up.” She didn’t want us to hang back and miss out on anything. She didn’t want to hold us back. But we wanted her with us. Later in the day we were on a trail that had a downed tree. It was pretty easy for my dad, brother, and I to just climb over and continue, but that’s where Mom had to stop. There was no going around and going over wasn’t an option. And so, we separated. We still had a great time, but instead of being able to have my best friend with me I had to tell her about it instead. I don’t even remember what was so special at the end of the trail, but I do remember that feeling sorry for my mom.

That memory has been on my mind since we started in on adventures with the family. I remember the first time we went tubing as a family and I wasn’t sure if I had the energy to keep up with my 4-year-old. He wanted to be pulled around in the tube and carried. All the things that 4-year-olds want. But could I keep up? Or would I have to reduce my son’s experience because I was just not that athletic and energetic mama. I remember struggling, but dammit, I wasn’t going to give up.

Five years ago, I started working with a health coach to help me lose some weight. I’d tried everything else and just failed on my own. So, I figured, I’d give it another shot. I remember one of the first discussions I had with her. She asked me directly, “Why do you want to get healthy?” And I answered with “I want to be around on this planet as long as I possibly can for my husband and son.” And that’s where it all started. As I really thought about my answer it was about two main ideas. First, I wanted to stack the deck against the cancer risks that plague my mother’s side of my family. Second, I wanted to be the best mom (and one day ... grandma) that I could possibly be. And the memory of leaving my mom behind started to come back again. I didn’t want to be the one behind the camera, or hiding being someone else in photos, or God forbid be the one stuck on the sidelines when I wanted to get in the game… whatever game that was that day. I want to be able to jump in and race my son across the pool when he challenges me. Or hop on a bike and ride 6 miles. Point is… I want to be there. I don’t want to just hear about the experiences. I want to be the mom who gets to be a part of the experience.

So, I feel like when I look back at where I was just five years ago, I’m a totally new mom. I’m now a mom who signs up to run a 5k to support my son’s school district. I’m a mom who rises to the challenge when dared to do 100 sit-ups. A mom who hikes up a snowy hill. A mom who kayaks against the tide. A mom who doesn’t say “I can’t”.

I’m a new mom. And I love who I’ve become. I wonder what would happen if I leveled up from here?

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