I couldn’t have been more excited to go on maternity leave. It was going to be that long-awaited vacation I had been working for. I dreamed of the days of lying around in my flannel PJ’s and rocking my adorable newborn, all while sipping on that XL Starbuck’s coffee I had been missing for nine months. I looked forward to twelve full weeks of “getting my life in order”. I created to-do lists in my head and imagined doing all of this with my little baby sleeping peacefully in the bassinet beside me. I planned on having a flawless delivery, a quick two-night stay in the hospital, a perfect obligatory Facebook “Going Home Picture” and heading back to my cozy home with my perfect little baby. Wrong. None of the above happened and motherhood wasn’t anything like I expected it to be, and I have learned that is OK to admit. I cringe at the fact that I once criticized a mother or once uttered the words, “When I’m a mom I will never do this or do that….”. The fact is in motherhood, you do what needs to be done to provide for that baby and you do so despite the stadium of critics that comes with being a mom. Motherhood is not one size fits all, its personalized and it comes organically. I began to truly enjoy motherhood when I began to listen to my instincts and care for my baby how I thought was best, not the peanut gallery of opinions from others. The following is a letter to all new moms, it’s raw, it’s real, and it’s something I wish I would have known going in…..
I see your tired, still recovering from labor, body making yet another pot of coffee to get you through the night. I want you to know that I understand what you’re going through, the good, the bad, and the things we don’t want to admit because people will think you are a “bad mom”. The truth is that motherhood is not easy, it is not always pretty, and it is not anything like the movies or your Instagram friends make it out to be. Your challenged daily, unlike any challenge you have ever undertaken, ever. You’re working harder at this than anything you have ever worked toward in your life. And you are loving harder and more than you ever thought could be possible. I understand and want you to know you’re not alone. I want to encourage you by sharing that nothing that is of value comes on a silver platter and motherhood is no exception. The transition into motherhood has shot you into new dimensions of life, like a bullet from a gun. It starts with the pain of delivery, then the elation of seeing your baby for the first time, then the reality of caring for another human, and then the flood of emotions that hits you after. All this happens so fast you barely have time to process what is happening and life does not slow down either. This transition has taken you from a woman who has lived to care for herself into learning how to give all of yourself to someone else on a daily basis. The job description of motherhood should read something like, watching your heart outside your body, because when that little one cries, so will you. When they hurt, you hurt. When they smile, you smile. Nothing in the world will ever prepare you for that monumental change in your life. On the tough days I have found myself wishing this phase away. Wishing away the sleepless nights, the crying, the endless guessing what does my baby need? Sometimes on those days I dream of just having one minute to myself. But, I am quickly reminded that this too shall pass, and it will pass more quickly than we think. Remember this, never again will you ever be needed so deeply as you are now. Embrace that. On those days, you cannot achieve getting out of your pajamas or brushing your hair, remember all that you have achieved. You are helping that tiny little person grow. With every pound gained, every smile flashed, and every milestone met, you can enjoy the fact that YOU helped achieve that. God gives us mothers insight into just how much he loves us. The enormous love, attachment, and protection you have for your child is simply a fragment of how God loves and cares for us, let that sink in. That kind of love is a gift, a gift given to you by God. Cling to that on those tough days.
I sit here typing this into my iPhone notes with one arm around my newborn and the other hastily typing to get all of these thoughts down because I want you to know you’re not alone. In a few hours, I will be making the 1,000th pot of coffee while I tirelessly put together another bottle and I’ll smile because I am reminded in this crazy little thing called motherhood just how small I am and how big my God is. Nothing that I have ever done has earned me the privilege to receive this precious little baby but, God gave him to me. One day when I no longer am needed to feed, change, bath, or clothe this baby I know that a little piece of me will be gone with it. I will look back and be proud of the love that was given, the sacrifices made, and the lessons learned and so will you.
So, momma relax because the job of motherhood, while the most difficult, is the most rewarding. Becoming a mother is like being a part of an elite group of women who have the ability to do any task one-handed while successfully comforting a screaming baby in the other. You were placed here by God to be the source of constant support to this little human, that is pretty amazing. So, with each breath they take, relax and take one too. What you are doing is truly amazing, and it’s truly a privilege. So, rock that spit up running off your shoulder, bask in the fact that you haven’t showered in two days, and take pride that you have the ability to hold your bladder for hours because you are now a new kind of tough. Mom tough.
A momma like you