Today is the day before I go back to work. The day before Rory starts day care. I’m only going back to work part time but it still feels like a monumental moment.

Rory turned one at the end of May, but I feel like tomorrow marks the end of my first year of motherhood.

This first year has been hugely transformative. I’m still the same person, but at the same time, I’m so different.

Motherhood has made me stronger, yet softer. Braver, yet more fearful. More connected to myself, but there’s also a feeling of disconnect that comes with devoting so much of my time to someone else.

I remember the first few weeks of my maternity leave so clearly. I was so excited to meet our little man but had no idea what we were in for. When I wasn’t feeling kicks and bum rolls from a busy baby, I had butterflies in my tummy. I was full of nerves, but in the best way possible.

And then, the birth. The memories of the pain have faded (I now think it wasn’t that bad, and I’m sure I didn’t echo that sentiment in the moment) but everything else is crystal clear. The high as he moved earth side, the moment he was first placed in my arms, and how empowered I felt.

The first few months are a bit of a blur. Most of those days were spent in leggings, with a feeding or sleeping baby on my chest. I don’t know how I found the time to shower, or eat, or leave the house, but I did. I see newborn babies now and wonder how he was ever that small.

It’s crazy how much a baby grows and changes in a year. I’ve never spent much time around babies, and this growth has been the biggest surprise of motherhood. In just a year Rory can do more than I thought possible. His personality shines more and more every day. He truly is his own little person. I’m so lucky to get know this cheeky, curious, constantly-on-the-move, cuddly little guy – although it feels like I already know him and I’m simply relearning it all.

At the start he was a little squishy potato. He didn’t know how to use his arms or stay awake for very long. Then suddenly he can smile, then grab things, then roll over. Before long he was crawling, then standing, and now using anything he can to help him walk around the house.

He’s only 12 months but he definitely isn’t a baby anymore. He looks more and more like a little boy with each passing day. I’m so happy watching him grow, but it also makes me sad.

There’s nothing like having a baby to highlight how quickly time passes.

I’ve been so lucky in my transition to motherhood. I loved being pregnant and I had no issues with the birth. Our breastfeeding journey while painful to start with has been relatively easy and I’ve been blessed with an abundant supply of milk. And I’m grateful that I’ve escaped the very common grasp of postnatal depression or anxiety.

To make it easier on myself I’ve stayed conscious of how I want to feel and made self-care a priority. I’ve journaled and meditated and spent hours at night wondering who I am as a mum and as a woman.

But in saying that, there have definitely been hard moments. Hard days and hard weeks.

I’ve cried so many times. I’ve laughed harder than I have in a long time. My heart has grown and there are days I’m overwhelmed by how much I love my little guy. It’s a love that can be scary. When the news is filled with horrible things done by horrible people, there are times when I just want to wrap Rory up in a bubble and never let him leave my side.

But as he grows he will venture further and further from me. We will spend less time together and he will be less dependent on me. And no matter how sad that makes me or how terrifying that is, I have to be ok with it.

There have been so many times I’ve craved a moment to myself only to scroll through my phone while he’s sleeping. So who knows if I’ll actually manage to do any work tomorrow or if I’ll spend the whole day watching videos of my sweet boy.

Over this past year I’ve learnt patience and then lost it more times than I can count.

I’ve learnt to function on less sleep than I thought possible. Now, I celebrate if I get fours hours of unbroken sleep.

I’ve rediscovered the magic and the joy of the smallest moments.

I’ve seen pure happiness, trust and love in the blue eyes of my mischievous babe.

I’ve been so exhausted I wasn’t sure if I would survive the next hour, let alone the day.

I’ve had so many ideas flow through my brain but had no time to bring these to fruition.

I’ve set goals then scrapped them.

I’ve had thoughts for the future and then changed them.

I’ve had days where I forget to clean my teeth until 4pm.

I’ve had days where I’ve been spewed on and pooed on, yet never felt happier.

I’ve had days where I just want to run away. Just for a night. Just to get some sleep.

I’ve had days where I’ve cried just because someone, often Luke, has extended the simplest kindness my way.

I’ve had days where we haven’t left the house.

I’ve had days when I had so much to do and then felt guilty for rushing Rory around with me but not spending quality time with him.

I’ve had days where I feel like I’m rocking this motherhood gig and then days where nothing seems to work out.

I’ve had days when I’ve barely been able to string a sentence together.

I’ve had days when I’ve been sick but still had to show up.

I’ve had happy days, sad days, easy days, hard days, quick days, slow days, and everything in between.

I’ve grown and cracked and learnt more than I thought possible. And today I’m still learning, but I feel comfortable in my transition to motherhood. I know this is where I’m meant to be and what I’m meant to be doing.

In saying that, I’m far from a perfect mother. In fact, this year has shown me parts of myself that I’m not proud of. That I was surprised to discover. But when you can’t even remember the last time you had a decent night sleep you’re bound to react in ways you immediately wished you hadn’t.

Life is completely different to what it was pre-baby but I’ve found a routine that works. When I look past all of the emotion that my return to work stirs up, I’m excited and nervous to find a new routine for my working-mum life.

I know I’ll go through another huge transition when we decide to grow our family again, but I don’t think anything will compare to the monumental changes that the first year of motherhood with your first baby brings.