Thursday, July 16, 2015

Dear New Mama

True story: Yesterday I took my sweet six-month-old to the pool.  She doesn't love to get her face wet, but she let me dunk her once.  When she came up out of the water SHE WAS SEVEN YEARS OLD AND ALMOST ALL HER FRONT TEETH WERE MISSING.

Okay not exactly true but it really does seem that way in my mind.  All-Knowing First Grader (soon to be Second Grader I might add) was swimming yesterday while I was sitting in the splash pad with The Baby and she yelled, "Mommy watch me!"  She did two front flips then came up with the biggest smile on her sweet little face and I seriously found myself all verklempt and wanting to ask the kids to talk amongst themselves.  I could not wrap my brain around how we got here so fast.  So. Fast.

That's how I landed here: a note to new mamas.  The ones who feel like they are drowning in dirty diapers and spit up.  The ones who haven't slept more than three hours in a row in six months. The ones who are just trying to live to fight another day.  I have something to say to you.  And it's not "enjoy this because it will be over before you know it." While this is absolutely true, it is also absolutely unhelpful to a new mama who feels like she's literally going to die the next time her bundle of joy wakes up at 2:00 AM and her husband just keeps snoring because let's be honest - he can't feed her, right?

I see you.

I see you running your marathon, because I'm running it too.  I am slightly ahead of you, maybe 100 yards, but I am here, and we are both starving/out of breath/feeling like we didn't train enough for this.

Hear me when I say this, I am with you in your exhaustion.  I am with you in your frustration.  I am with you in your lack of sleep, your longing to eat a meal from start to finish without getting up, in your desire to shower without a little face looking at you through the glass while she sits in her bouncy seat and screams bloody murder.  And don't even start on body image.

You are not alone.

I thought I was alone seven years ago.  I was convinced all my new mom friends had babies who were sleeping perfectly, eating perfectly, and pooping rainbows with a happy smile on their chubby little faces.  I felt alone in my little world of being home with this tiny human who cried approximately 23 hours per day.  No one was talking about how hard our job was.  We were smiling and looking perfectly put together and sending the message that we were pretty much nailing this new baby thing.

When I finally started to wade into the water of suggesting to some close friends that this mom thing was not as easy as I thought it would be, it was like a dam broke.  Every single one of them, and I mean EVERY SINGLE ONE started telling stories of horrible sleep, nursing strikes, traumatic diaper issues, and bodies they barely recognized when they looked in the mirror.  And I realized that we all needed to feel the freedom to just say what we were thinking, namely that being a mother is no joke. And when you are brand new at this job, learning everything the hard way because you've never been 100% responsible for another human life at all times, it can be excruciatingly painful and downright scary.  And friend, it is okay to feel like that.

You are not crazy.  You are normal.  You have been thrown into the deep end and you have to figure out how to swim while holding an 8-pound weight who is crying and scratching your face.  It's okay to feel like you are going to lose it.  THIS JOB IS HARD.

The good news is there are lots of us who are also in the water with you.  And those of us who have been thrown the life-preserver that comes with admitting we are tired and scared and need a break will gladly extend the preserver to you.  We get it.  We have been there and some of us are still there (I have had kids three and under in my house for eternity quite some time).

Please be brave enough to be honest.  I am willing to bet that you will not find judgment.  I really think you will find an understanding face, a listening ear, a gentle voice, and maybe, if your friend is really something special, a cocktail during the lovely hours of 3:00-5:00 PM.

New Mama, you are doing a great job. I am yelling this to you at the top of my Interwebs voice - YOU ARE DOING A GREAT JOB. Don't let the father of lies tell you that you aren't. God made you specifically to be your child's mother, and He doesn't make mistakes.  But you don't have to go it alone.  There are so many women around you who are running this race with you, and you need to get into the middle of the pack where people can encourage you, hand you a water bottle, give you suggestions for better running music, and hold your baby when your arms are ready to fall off.  We are ready and waiting.

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