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Accepting the unwavering commitment: Sacrificing a mother’s love to love her mother

When parents look back on the first year of their baby’s life, they often say it seems to go by in a flash. The fussy spells, dirty diapers and sleepless nights may seem never-ending at the time. But many parents find that the precious little moments — the snuggles, belly laughs, gummy smiles and curious wonderment at the world around them — are all so fleeting.

Artist and new mom Amanda Oleander beautifully captures the early months of parenthood in illustrations she shares on her popular Instagram account. In May 2021, she and husband Joey welcomed their first child, Benny. Since then, her son, now 8 months old, has been a major source of inspiration for her work.

“This is exactly how Joey found us napping the other day after a feed,” Oleander wrote in the Instagram caption for this illustration.

“My whole world revolves around Benny and his needs so my art has reflected that,” she told HuffPost.

The best part of parenthood so far, according to Oleander, is that “it’s filled with the purest love.” And the hardest part? Feeling perpetually strapped for time, trying to figure out how to balance work and taking care of a baby with everything else on her plate.

“I have so much to do and it’s all jumbled in endless to do lists and when they all aren’t accomplished I feel bad, like I didn’t do enough,” Oleander wrote on Instagram. “The laundry could all be completed and I walked 5 miles and finished a drawing and the house looks great and we had a fun day playing and reading with Benny but then I didn’t get to all the emails and comments and messages.”

“Lately I’ve been feeling like something is always off and I guess something will always be on the to do list,” she continued. “It’s never ending and I have to be okay with that.”

“One of my favorite parts of being a parent is getting to relive the excitements of the smallest things in life all over again. Benny loves it when we read books to him, the other night I read seven books straight and a couple of them twice and he kept his wide-eyed look for all of them while trying to read along too,” Oleander captioned this piece on Instagram.

Watching Benny grow so quickly has brought on conflicting emotions, Oleander said. On the one hand, she’s excited to see him develop into his own little person. On the other hand, she’s sad that the time is passing so quickly.

That’s why she’s really trying to soak up all of the little moments — like the middle-of-the-night nursing sessions, for example.

“During last night’s midnight feed, Benny fell back asleep on me. Instead of transferring him back to the crib right away, I continued to hold and rock him,” Oleander wrote on Instagram. “I find myself holding him longer and longer each night. Especially when the world is dark and quiet. It’s in those moments I wish I could just freeze time. I know soon we won’t meet in the middle of the night like this. I know soon he’ll be too heavy to carry this long. I know soon he’ll be too big to carry at all. I know soon any one of these feeds might be the last. So for now, while the world is dark and quiet, and his sleepy little body is resting so comfortably in my arms, I’ll hold on for a little bit longer.”

Oleander poignantly captures familiar new mom moments in her work, like this illustration titled, “Midnight Feed.”

For many couples, adding a baby into the mix can be a strain on the relationship. But for Oleander and her husband, the experience has brought them together in a new way.

Oleander said she and her husband of two years are “closer than ever.”

“Joey and I are closer than ever now,” she said. “Bringing Benny into this world was a very bonding and intense experience and now parenting him has been a really special journey. We depend on each other much more since we don’t live near our parents or have a babysitter or nanny.”

Below, check out more of Oleander’s illustrations. You can also follow her on Instagram and Facebook or visit her website.

“Splish Splash”
“I Need Backup”
“Slow Mornings”
“Nursing Dessert”
“Piranha Baby”
“There For Each Other”
“Benny And The Jets”
“Like A Baby”

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