She smiles at you and asks the best questions she can muster. She replies, “I’m fine, how are you?” on the rare occasion someone stops to ask her about herself and not just her baby.

She is present but always distant as her mind, body, and soul are connected to her baby nearby or far away.

Who sees the mother?

Her back aches from holding her new love, her neck hurts from gazing down at its beautiful face.

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Her body is different, new, and changed from the life it created. It bleeds and leaks, twinges, and shakes.

Who sees the mother?

She is sitting in pants that don’t fit the same, with a bra and breasts that don’t feel the same.

She wonders if she looks distraught or disheveled, if someone can truly see behind the makeup she puts on and the clothes that hide how unsettled and exhausted she feels.

Who sees the mother?

She changes the baby, soothes her cries, kisses her tears, and cuddles her close. She tends to everything.

She tries to feed with a cover or a drape, pumping or latching, bottle or breast, while her baby wails and her heart breaks.

Who sees the mother?

She’s not drinking or eating as she should because her focus is completely on this little baby she gave life to whose needs come first.

She’s in the corner of the room or the hallway or the bathroom or spare bedroom, alone, with her babe.

Who sees the mother?

She feels put together with tape and glue, stitches and pads while falling apart at the seams. She needs a hug, a moment, a thoughtful question, a listening ear, and someone to tell her she is amazing. Because she is. Not for how she birthed her babe. Not for how she feeds her babe. But just because she is.

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I see you, mother, as I’ve never seen anything or anyone before.

I see your pain and exhaustion, your love and your tears, your sore back and neck, your soft heart and strong hands. I see you.

I’m so sorry it’s taken so long.

I didn’t offer to help you care for yourself while you cared for your babe. I didn’t bring you coffee or tea when your eyes were fighting to stay open or stop to ask you how you were and remark on your greatness and newness instead of just your baby’s. I’m sorry I didn’t give you more hugs and tell you just how strong and amazing you are.

I see you, mother. Now that I am a mother. And we should all see mothers, especially new mothers, and marvel at mothers because they are the core of the family. The life-giving, heart-thumping, handholding, selfless core of society. And they should be seen. And celebrated.

I see you mother. And I stare at you mother. Because you are amazing.

Abigail Granner

Abigail Granner is a work-from-home mama with one rambunctious toddler. She is also a Certified Personal Trainer via the American Council on Exercise and an uncertified coffee and coconut milk expert. She writes about health, wellness, and other topics as a freelancer and for fun on her blog, Connect with her on Instagram: @abigailjoyg