By Catherine Cameron.

My daughter’s third birthday is around the corner.

And, like every year, I not only look back at this time and marvel at her growth, but, also, at my own.

I think every mother knows, deep down, that when they hold their baby for the first time something within them will change. That a great love will suddenly burn for this tiny being, and that their priorities will be bumped to make way for raising a child.

I remember being warned about this great love. This both excited, and scared me. How could love be so big and bold, that it be beyond anything I had experienced before?

And off course, as every mother does, I received overwhelming practical advice. Advice on what to buy, what not to buy, how to birth, how not to birth, and graphic accounts on how Sharon’s* boobs changed so much that I am still wary of touching deflated balloons.

There were horror stories of Greys Anatomy drama worthy births in the hospital, forewarnings of nappies post C-sections, and many a slide show in antenatal class of body parts that looked like they weren’t body parts.

Even before her birth, my time was consumed with ‘her’.

I bought clothes for her. I arranged the perfect little room for her. I spoke at length to family and friends about my emotions in meeting her. I thought about the future in wonder – wondering about what life would look like, with her. At my baby shower, the comments were all about her; I wonder what she will look like, who she will resemble.

And then suddenly there I was, ballooning under my hospital gown, about to step into the threshold of parenthood.

Riddled with adrenaline at the thought of finally meeting my daughter; this new person who would be mine.

And then, there she was.

This new, yet strangely familiar being.

Scrambling for information, answers, control, and sleep, desperate to wrap her head around her new world.

You see, she was as they said she would be.

She was tired.

She was frightened.

She was out of her depth, yet in some beautiful way, designed to be doing exactly what she was doing.

But they never said she would evolve.

Like a butterfly shedding its former self and emerging from the chrysalis, they never said she would in some light be almost unrecognizable.

In the light of her priorities.

In the light of her relationships.

In the light of her view of the world.

In the light of her new role.

There was some forewarning of immediate uncertainty. There were mutterings of this too shall pass.

This too did pass.

But it never returned to what it was.

Instead, it continued, as the butterfly dried her new wings in the sun, to change.

To heighten.

To intensify.

To infuriate.

At times, she remembered how easy it was without her wings.

How simple.

How safe.

How being cocooned in the familiarity of her safe-haven offered the predictability she now yearned.

But then she wouldn’t have been given her wings if the universe didn’t believe she was ready to leave that haven behind.

And as the butterfly keeps its wings, and adapts to flight, she too continued to move forward in this way.

She continued to change.

Face new challenges.

Fly into danger.

She lost friends along the way. Not everyone flies in the same direction.

She gained others.

She carried resentment at times at the weight of her responsibility – and the relentlessness of impermanence at every turn.

She carried beauty beyond words as flight became second nature.

Beauty in what she had done. What she was doing. What she would continue to do for the rest of her life.

You see, the maternal focus, adrenaline, nerves, wonder, excitement and preparations I directed at my daughter throughout my pregnancy left little room to prepare for me.

Me, becoming her mother.

And as my daughter was placed in my arms, this realization came to fruition.

I was prepared, on a material level, to meet my new baby.

I was not, on any level, prepared to meet the woman who was born on that very same day.

I was not prepared, not meet myself.

The butterfly who three years on is still flying, navigating and adjusting to her new wings.

The most beautiful wings she could never in her life have ever imagined.

The wings of a mother.

*Names have been changed

Catherine Cameron

Catherine is a first time Mother and author of the blog ‘Sweetest Devotion.’ Catherine is passionate about honestly sharing her own experiences in parenthood, in the hope to assure other Mothers that we are never alone in this crazy whirlwind we call parenting.