It had been two years since I had last seen her. I had honestly all but forgotten her. She lived in legend and fuzzy distant memories, but I didn’t realize how fuzzy or how distant until I was staring her in the face again.

There she was with greasy hair piled up in a knot on her head. Not the cute knots that people carefully style to appear casually messy. No, it truly was messy. And authentically slept on. She had been wearing the same clothes for a few days now. Loose. Stained. It was obvious she wasn’t sleeping well. None of those things gave her away though.

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The tell-tale giveaway was that she was eating hummus straight out of a container with her finger. So hungry, so pressed for time, so oblivious to the wreck she was.

As I stared at her in the mirror it hit me: Newborn Mommy was back! 

I knew as I licked the hummus off my hands that the last time I had done this very same thing I was a brand-new mom, thick in the newborn-ness of it all. The only difference was, this time, I had a very cute and exhausting side-kick with me: The Toddler.

Seeing myself face-to-face as Newborn Mommy was shocking. I had practically erased from my memory that I ever was her. How could I have forgotten how hard it had been the first time? Some might argue it’s because I was operating on so little sleep that life was just a blur then anyway, and yes, true.

But here’s what I think the biggest reason is: those rock-bottom days of mothering a newborn didn’t last all that long.

And that is a truth I think is almost impossible to believe when you’re in the rock-bottom days of mothering a newborn. Even when it’s the second time around.

I don’t want this message to come across like a you’re going to miss this one day refrain that I never found helpful on my darkest days. What I’m talking about here I mean in the encouraging there’s a light at the end of the tunnel way I need to hear when I spiral into thinking that life will always be the way it is right now. Messy, sleepless, hazy, survival-mode.

Soon I’ll move on to more dignified versions of mommyhood, like Sits Down to Eat Sometimes Mommy or Sleeps the Whole Night Mommy. There will be challenges at each stage. And there will be joys too, like giant gummy smiles and coos and all the milestones that make us clap and cheer so loud we scare the baby.

And in the wake of the rest of those big and small moments, Newborn Mommy will become forgettable. She really won’t stick around all that long.

I knew from looking back on the first time that truly nothing is forever. That stages and phases come and go, and I will survive. Even if some days it’s just barely. And so what if the more limited showering and stained clothes part linger out of the newborn stage into Toddler Mom life too? I know for certain the days of eating hummus straight out of the container like a feral raccoon are very numbered.

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So, to myself and any mom of a newborn, whether it’s your first or your fifth, I say, you’ve got this. No matter how it looks now, you’ve got this. I’ve been on the other side. Maybe you’ve been on the other side too. You’ll get there again. And it might even come sooner than you could ever think possible.

So, Newborn Mommy—bring it. I’ve got hummus for days, and I’m not afraid of being you for a while. I know you’ll soon be gone again, probably to be forgotten until the day I possibly choose to do it all over again for round three. And just like the time before, by the time you show up again, it will be hard for me to put my hummus-coated finger on where I knew you from before.

Kim Howard

Kim Howard is a mom to three kids. She has a Ph.D. in Curriculum Studies and is a former teacher. Check out her debut picture book, Grace and Box, and learn more about her at www.kimhowardbooks.com.