The time comes closer and closer. A night away – every mom’s dream. Your husband agreed to take care of the kids and you get to spend a couple hours away from it all. You start to slowly get ready, putting on your makeup and fixing your hair in between your own yawns and your baby’s cries. As you look at your wardrobe you are overwhelmed at the options. Options that are too small, too tight, the wrong season, faded, or dirty. You finally pick an outfit with the least amount of spots on it that fits as good as possible. After spot cleaning for the 2 minutes you have left, you get dressed and grab the first purse you see. Yet you can’t even make it to the door. You sit. The tears come pouring down. The stress and anxiety that overcomes you makes it impossible for you to even step out of the house. These feelings that come simply from exhaustion. Pulling out your phone, you send a quick text to cancel, crawl into bed, and cry with frustration and guilt.
5 months postpartum. 5 months of only 2-4 hours of sleep at a time. 5 months of the never ending struggle of feeding. 5 months of whines and cries throughout the days and nights. 5 months and yet it is still not over.
The joy of a new baby is overwhelmingly incredible. Yet that joy is so often masked by emotions that overtake. Emotions that are excruciatingly difficult. Emotions which include loneliness, fear, sadness and depression. As the days, weeks, and months go by you wait for the clearing to come – for the light at the end of the long, exhausted tunnel. Many days you see glimpses of it and sometimes you are even completely out of that tunnel, only to be thrown back in a few days later.
When will it be over? The frustration. The aggravation. The desire for more. The earning to no longer be tired.
And on top of it – the guilt. GUILT amidst the struggle you already are facing. Guilt as a mother for not doing your job the way you think you should be. The guilt for keeping your toddler inside all day, simply because you don’t have the energy to take her outside. The guilt for allowing your toddler to watch hours of television because you have to spend hours feeding baby. The guilt for letting your baby cry so that you can tend to your toddler throwing a fit, and then letting your toddler scream for your attention while you comfort your baby for the umpteenth time that day. The guilt for not being able to do it all, yet wanting to do everything for those little ones you love so much.
Then comes the outside guilt. The guilt for not seeing family and friends enough. The guilt for forgetting to respond to lost messages that were read in between cries from the little ones. The guilt for cancelling for the third time because you simply got no sleep the night before.
The guilt for saying no. No to friends, no to family. No to events and no to groups. The desire to say yes and then becoming flaky because you just can’t.
If only we could remind ourselves. If only we could stay true to ourselves and our own needs and desires. If only we could learn to say no with freedom. If only we could separate ourselves from these expectations; whether they come from the outside or whether they come from our own hearts.
Dear new mom. I hear you. I am there. And I urge. I urge you to say no. Say no and be free from any expectations. Because dear new mama, you have enough on your plate. And dear new mama, this is simply a short stage that will be over oh so soon. Dear new mama, be free. Be free from guilt.
And dear new mom, say yes. Say yes to help. Say yes to your next door neighbor asking if they can take your kids for an hour so you can shower. Say yes to your friend offering to help clean your house. Say yes to your husband willing to take a night shift. Say yes.
I know those feelings of guilt will be tough to ignore, but be reminded – you have no reason to be guilty. I know because I am there right now. And I am learning. I am learning to say no to expectations and yes to help. I am being humbled again and again at this crazy stage of motherhood. Learn with me; be humbled with me and let’s get through this with a sense of freedom.