My line of work, teaching weekly Postnatal fitness classes, keeps me around new moms. I talked to 2 just this week…like brand new mammas. They’re in the thick of it: not sleeping, trying to figure out nursing, learning new schedules, feeling a little unsure, but also excited, and then kind of bored…
It’s all so fresh to me and at the same time a distant memory. My oldest is almost 7 and as her birthday nears, so do all those brand new mama memories: crying in my room while trying to latch my screaming baby, nursing through pain, getting infections, being bored, etc, etc.
I remember my first outing with her. I dressed her in the most adorable little overall outfit from my friend Laurie. I put her in her car seat, snapped a pic, and took her to the mall…where I failed to find anything suitable for my postpartum body. I remember worrying about what to do if I had to pee and gauging my trip around our nursing schedule. I think I lived that first year in 3 hour blocks of feedings and “nap windows.”
It’s so easy as a seasoned mom to look back at the first few years of motherhood and roll our eyes at ourselves. All that stuff we carted around that we didn’t need. All that unnecessary worrying. All that obsessing over making perfectly pureed foods. All the tears that we were messing it up. We put so much pressure on ourselves.
My daughter is using her fingers to count as her brain learns subtraction; it’s that in between phase before she knows it/memorizes it. She’s LEARNING it. 10 minus 6 doesn’t come naturally to her, yet. So she uses her fingers. And I would never ever think to begrudge her that.
But don’t we do that to ourselves?
When I first had her, nothing about being a mama came naturally, except loving her. Except forgetting what life was like without her. Except feeling this bizarre sensation that she’d always been with me somehow.
Being a mom takes time to learn. I was a big ole insane spaz about nursing. I cried and cried one day in the car to my husband after spending an entire day bra shopping to absolutely no avail. Now my friends call me the “nursing bra guru” (I prefer bra whisperer, but whatever). I remember the early days of motherhood, feeling so long, and so boring. Now I can’t believe how quickly my days fly by and how there is always still more to do at the end of them. I remember thinking I’d never ever sleep again. Yet, I felt guilty longing for her nap time when I’d get some alone moments. Now I am counting down the days until summer break, when my oldest will be home all week and our schedules will slow down.*
I now know what’s necessary and what is frivolous. In so many ways, life is easier. Just like…someday my kids won’t sound out their words, they’ll just read them because they know them. Someday I’ll know more about motherhood than I do right now. Because it’s all a journey. You don’t usually start off the journey being seasoned. You start off looking for wisdom and you finish it giving wisdom.
SO, hang in mama. The world of 2017 has lied to you if you think you have to be perfect right now. If you think your baby needs to sleep through the night and your 3-year-old should have been born with respect for you.
Hang in, mama. It’s ok to give yourself grace. To cry about it a bit. To miss your freedom a bit. It’s ok to be bored and snuggle and watch Netflix all day. Pretty soon, you’ll figure it out, pretty soon you’ll be doling out encouragement to the mama a little bit younger than you!
Hang in, mama, soon you’ll be the bra guru, or the nap time smartie pants, or the baby food genius. Take it one step at a time. You don’t get the medal right out of the gate. You get it after the sweat and tears and after wanting to quit and after perseverance.
Hang in, mama. It will get easier in ways, and then harder in ways, but we’re all in this together. Just put one foot in front of the other and breathe.
*Clarification: I am NOT counting the days until summer, I hate summer the season, summer is the worst, especially Texas summers.