Mothergood Feature: Sophie Wheeler, Creative Director and Graphic Designer
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background?
I am a wife, a mother, a Creative Director, and a Graphic Designer. My husband and I got married in 2014, and our son is about to turn 2. My work as a professional Creative Director and Graphic Designer has allowed me to work from home which has helped with life’s transitions, and it has been great to have my work as a constant.
I come from a military family and moved back to United States during high school after moving several times all over the world, so home is a very important concept to me and my husband. Our idea of home inspired us to settle in the same neighborhood as both my parents and his parents. It was important to us that we live near our parents after Daniel got out of the military, and we plan on it staying that way.
What do you find most fulfilling about motherhood and what’s the most challenging?
The most fulfilling thing for me is that I have this constant, little companion at all times and see him grow.
Because I became a mother at relatively young age (in my 20s), I feel like I am growing with him. It’s a common misconception that we need to be fully grown and developed in all aspects of our lives before we have children. Regardless of your state of life, you are always going to have to make a dramatic shift when a child is introduced into your family.
It has been helpful for me to grow with my son and sometimes I wonder how it is that he can be so confident in me when I barely know what I’m doing. He is so childishly confident in everything that I and my husband are doing for him and he is so trusting that we are going to teach him everything, even though we are still figuring everything out, too.
The most challenging part of motherhood is also that I have a constant, little companion. It is exhausting to have someone with you 24/7, especially when they are constantly depending on you; it can be draining. It’s amazing you can love someone so much, but at the same time, you can’t wait for them to take a nap and have a couple of hours to yourself.
What does motherhood look for you right now?
I’ve found that the older my son gets, the more fun and easier it gets for me. Some people are nostalgic and say, “These are the best years!” or ,“They grow up so fast!” But I am always looking forward to his next milestone. I never felt that pull to be nostalgic because it is so much more fun when I wake up and he’s saying something new and he can do a new activity with me or loves to help me do something new.
How have you incorporated motherhood into your identity without losing your identity?
It was challenging at first to incorporate motherhood into my identity without losing my identity even though it was something my husband I talked about even before we had our son. We talked about the importance of prioritizing things I liked to do.
But I struggled with post-partum depression. I struggled with the fact that I was so heavily relied upon by my son. It was especially hard when a lot of my friends in their 20s had so much independence.
After 5 months it got a lot better. It became a priority for me to have time for myself and have time for the things that made me feel better: designing, running, and cooking. Now I work from home and I feel connected to my son and still be fulfilled in my work as Professional Designer. It is a balancing act every day.
What advice would you give women that are considering or desiring motherhood?
My first piece of advice is not to put off motherhood by trying to wait for the perfect time. Honestly, that’s the same advice I would give about dating and marriage. Let things take their natural course and re-assess as you go.
My second piece of advice is don’t stress or overwhelm yourself as you approach motherhood. There are so many rules, guidelines, and controversy out there. Trust your husband, trust your body, and have confidence in doing whatever you know to be best for you and your family.
It is important to not stress once you are mom too. The amount of information out there is overwhelming. Stress is a big family strain. If something is weighing on you, stressing you out, and isn’t working for your family circumstances, eliminate it from your life.
For example, if you don’t enjoy breastfeeding and it puts a lot of stress on you and the bonding between you and your baby, then don’t breastfeed. It may inhibit the health of your family.
There are so many things that can go wrong physically or mentally with all the changes that occur in motherhood, and so many people do not get the attention they need other than what’s on the mom blogs, which is a whole other level of pressure. For me, things got better after 5 months, and when I stopped breastfeeding my son. I discovered breastfeeding was linked to my post-partum depression.
According to everything I read online, breastfeeding is supposed to be the best thing for your baby, but I experienced what I learned to be Nursing Aversion and Agitation (BAA). BAA or ‘aversion’ is a phenomenon that some breastfeeding mothers experience, which includes having negative feelings, often coupled with intrusive thoughts when your baby is nursing.
All the information out there was telling me that I should breastfeed for as long as possible, and it was contributing to my depression. It’s important that moms know to trust their bodies, and if something isn’t working for them, then not to feel pressure to do it anyway.