I’ve had the opportunity of spending more time than usual with my sister-in-law this past week/weekend and it was a good reminder of those early mom days. The ones where you are constantly analyzing everything, googling everything, researching everything, questioning everything. The stress-of-experiencing-motherhood-for-the-first-time-everything.
And as I watched her and talked with her and sort of mulled through a lot of this “everything” with her again, I’m reminded of how much easier it is for me now. Even with two under my roof and a third to arrive in six weeks. I wouldn’t go back to those first days. Ever.
I could see the fear and anxiety in her eyes and the pressure she feels to do everything as best as possible. To breastfeed as long as possible. To hold him as much as possible (even when you don’t want to). To lose all the weight as quickly as possible. To get to that point where life was before–carefree, enjoyable, easy. And she’s at that stage, that raw vulnerability, where there is nothing I can say to calm her fears. She has to experience it all on her own. She has to ride the waves and face the storm so that when it finally does go away she will believe in herself. Believe in the process. And believe that yes it does in fact get better … over time.
The only thing I can do is hold her baby when she’s tired. Listen to her. Hug her. And love her. Encourage her through it all and remind her that she is doing a wonderful job. That feeling completely outside yourself is normal. That exhaustion can make you think and feel horrible things to the most adorable, sweet smelling, cuddly human on the planet. It can also make you feel like stabbing your husband when he’s snoring at 3am and you’ve been up five times in the last hour.
And I feel like seasoned mothers should be more supportive. We should be chanting… “You are normal. This is normal. It’s going to be ok. Maybe not today. Or tomorrow, but eventually.” There is no magical fairy dust to make you love every minute of your life when you are embarking on one of the most challenging jobs in the history of ever. Every day will bring something new. And every day you will find yourself questioning, wondering, and stressing. No mother is spared these experiences. No mother has it easier than another. We all have it. It’s just packaged differently.
I do not expect people to feel sorry for me because I must trapeze the world with my children in tow. I do not get huffy when a mother of one tells me how tired she is. I do not respond to that mother with any comments similar to, “HA! You should try having two and being pregnant.” That is not what she needs to hear. This isn’t a game of checks and balances. We are not trying to one up the other so that we may have more to complain about. All of my children have been a choice. A willing choice. And a blessing to boot. I do not feel a sense of martyrdom because of this choice. Especially when so many women spend their nights crying over what they will never have–a child of their own.
Whether you have one, two, or ten it’s all hard. It’s all a crazy system of chaos according to what you are used to handling. And it’s all important. We are optimistic that we will want four, but we take each child at a time. We adjust. We reassess. And we decide what’s best for us according to our life at that time. I wish moms would think about this before they respond with the, “Just wait…” comments. Or before they analyze an exhausted mom of a newborn and counter with how much more exhausted they will be with a toddler. Or question the choice behind having only one when they have five. Or are living in trench full of teenagers and want to discredit the hard work of changing diapers.
We are not cave men. We do not need to grunt and pound our chests over how much we’ve accomplished. We are women. Powerful and graceful. Fierce and kind. Protective and loving. Whether we know each other personally or not we are all a part of the same village. Whether we’ve birthed our children or adopted them it doesn’t change our hearts ownership of them. We are all mothers.
Not Judgers. Not Haters. Not enemies. Mothers.
Always remember that we are on the same team. No matter what colors we wear. And that no one is doing it perfectly. But we are all doing it right when love is involved.