Mothers we loveLife as a mom my new normal

Bridget Blakeley (above) holds her premature baby, Kate, at MUSC Children’s Hospital. Kate and her twin sister, Adeline, were born three months premature, with Adeline weighing 1 pound, 6 ounces and Kate weighing 1 pound, 1 ounce. Victoria Manigault (below) keeps her 3-year-old daughter Ava occupied while her husband watches their daughter’s softball game at James Island Recreation Complex.

Some of my happiest moments since our son was born at the beginning of March have been simply holding him while he snuggles with me. Nothing compares with getting a real smile from him, which makes my day.

And it's only a matter of time before he learns to do something else equally amazing that melts my heart.

Some people know all their lives that they want a family. It wasn't until I met my husband, who I knew would make a great dad, that I finally thought I could be a mom.

A lot of that reluctance stems from the fact that my own mother died when I was 7. Motherhood was always linked with loss for me, and despite having a stepmom whom I love and who loves me, I always dreaded Mother's Day because it reminded me of what I no longer had.

So the thought of becoming a mom filled me with anxiety and not a small amount of dread. But we decided to take the leap, and now I can't imagine my life any other way.

Pretty much everything everybody said would happen when we had a baby has turned out to be true. We love our little guy more than anything. We are sleep deprived. I have “mom brain” and have to write things down or I will not remember them.

Most importantly, I've learned that you have to be flexible, and expect the unexpected. That started when our son decided he didn't want to wait until his due date and instead made his debut a month early.

So I can't say that the day he was born was the happiest day of my life, because it was actually pretty scary. But I can say now that this is the happiest I have ever been.

If I had a nickel for every time I've used the word mommy or momma in the past two months, well, I wouldn't have to work outside the home. But, to answer the question every mom who works full-time outside the home faces when she returns from maternity leave, yes, I am glad to be at work.

It's part of who I am just as much as being a mom or a runner or a writer. But I'm also glad to come home to my family at the end of the day.

Recent political discussions have shown that we as a country are still not in a good place when it comes to talking about working and motherhood.

When Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, No. 4 on Forbes' list of the world's 20 most powerful moms, said publicly that she leaves work every day at 5:30 to have dinner with her family, it set off a fresh debate. What are the implications for a working professional and her employer when a woman leaves work “early?”

Of course, the reality is that when our son starts child care on Monday, I'll be part of that early departure crew. Like many other women, I have felt that I needed to have face time at the office that met or exceeded that of comparable male colleagues, to say yes to as many projects and requests as possible.

Learning how to separate the must-do-now list from the this-can-wait list will be an ongoing adjustment.

Being a mom, or a dad, is a full-time job. Neither my husband nor I can imagine being a single parent or having multiples. Though I met a mom of twins at the gym recently, and when I told her I don't know how she manages, her answer was simply that she didn't know any other way.

In other words, we each make our own “normal” in our lives. So our son will grow up knowing his dad and mom work outside the home.

He'll also have a dad who teaches him to fish and hunt and plant a garden, and a mom who teaches him to run and swim and ride a bike.

Until then, I have a slew of short nights ahead of me. My first Mother's Day will probably start around 2:30 a.m., for our son's overnight feeding.

Melanie Balog is a mom, a columnist and Digital Editor at The Post and Courier.