Dear new mama,
Some days, I wish I were you.
It may sound strange, but tonight sitting here, my little ones tucked in, the quiet of the house both a respite and a reminder that I won’t hear the middle of the night cries, makes me long to hear them once more.
I remember those days so clearly. I was tired, beyond tired really; I was exhausted. But tonight, I’d still go back.
Tonight, I long to feel the slight warmth and weight of my newborn on my chest. I long to feel that tiny fist grab my finger, holding it so tightly as if to say, “Mama, I’ll never let go.” And it seemed to be true back then . . . that she would never let go. But she did. And yours will too, one day.
It doesn’t seem like it at the time. Oh, I remember some nights I thought for sure would last forever, nights exhaustion settled so deeply into my soul only my tears kept me company. But even those nights passed.
New mama, I wish I were you tonight. And I also wish I could tell the seven-years-younger woman pacing the bedroom with her baby in her arms, shushing and swaying and praying sleep would come, a couple of things as well.
I wouldn’t tell her to enjoy every moment because even now, with some level of hindsight to offer the smallest bit of wisdom, there were some moments I didn’t enjoy. And the pressure to feel joy when things feel hard only adds weight to the soul.
So I wouldn’t tell her to enjoy every moment, but I would tell her this:
I would tell her a day will come when she’ll wish she could go back. That she’ll want to experience many of those moments again. That she will long to feel her tiny, swaddled baby in her arms, hear the quiet shush of her breathing, and see the adoration in her baby’s eyes just for her.
I would tell her not to be so afraid. That new mama lost many moments to fear . . . fear that she’d do something wrong, fear that her little one wasn’t getting enough to eat, fear that her baby would get sick, fear that she’d make a wrong decision.
I’d tell her not to strive for perfection. That trying to be perfect all the time is exhausting and sucks the joy from life. I’d tell her to be present rather than perfect, and to rest in the confidence that all those small (but seemingly big) decisions she’s so worried about will work out just fine.
I’d tell her that motherhood is often a juxtaposition of emotion, and that those very long nights somehow morph quickly into very short years.
I’d tell her that she may not enjoy every moment. And she may not miss every single moment. But there will come a day when she will most likely miss her babies being babies. She will miss their littleness.
I’m still a mom with littles, and I imagine that moms with teens could share some wisdom with me. I can’t help but wonder if it would sound similar to what I’ve shared above. Because maybe, the bottom line is the same for all of us mamas.
Don’t chase perfection.
Remember even some of the hardest moments will be missed with the gift of hindsight and time.
Remember that so much of what we worry about has a way of working out.
Remember to be present and to be thankful for the moments you’re given . . . at every age. Because the time does move quickly. And so often when we’re present and thankful, we stumble upon joy.
So new mama, as you look into the eyes of your little one tonight may you find peace even in the exhaustion and joy in the chaos, knowing these moments won’t last forever.
(For more stories of motherhood and faith, I’d love for you to join us here at No Mama’s Perfect.)