“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ,” (Galatians 6:2).
I want to chat with the new moms out there. Seasoned moms, pull up a chair, because we’re all in this together. Are you comfy? Let’s talk.
Motherhood isn’t easy. It’s not supposed to be. Caring for children is a physically grueling, emotionally draining, and spiritually challenging round-the-clock job. I don’t know who might’ve told you otherwise, or how many women withheld this bit of information when they gushed over your adorable baby shower gifts, but I’m here to set the record straight. Babies are hard work. So are toddlers. I’ve heard teenagers are extra special, so let’s hold onto Jesus for the ride.
But there’s something else you should know.
You are not alone.
If you cried in the glider rocker at 2 a.m. because you are just so unbelievably tired and the whole world seems flipped on its side—somebody else cried, too.
If you spent two hours after dinner bouncing and shush-shush-shushing a fussy swaddled bundle because the books said it would calm him and please Lord you just need the noise to stop—somebody else shushed, too.
If you’re staring at piles of laundry and blank thank-you notes, fighting the guilt of unfinished tasks and wondering how other women have done this without collapsing—somebody else wonders, too.
If you miss the smell of your husband’s chest and his unhurried gaze into your eyes across the dinner table, and you ask God, what have we done? Somebody else asked, too.
Somebody else, some other mom somewhere in the world—quite possibly in your very own neighborhood—is learning to be a mom, also. And after she conquers colic then teething then first birthday party planning, she graduates to a club of moms who’ve been there and know exactly how you feel today.
Maybe not every new mom struggles the same. If your baby hardly cries or snoozed through the night the first week home, or if you have no problem spinning cartwheels on two hours of sleep and every moment of caring for your newborn is filled with pure joy, then count your blessings and praise the Lord. Sincerely.
But I am convinced those women are in the minority. There are a lot more of us deer-in-the-headlights frazzled new mommies who do not have it all together and, sadly, assume everybody else does because women are not talking about it.
It’s time we start being real with one another. Amen?
Last week I ran into a new mom at church. She glowed, snuggling a lovely bambino on her shoulder for other ladies like me to admire with instinctive awww’s and smoochie sounds. I asked her a question I ask many new moms.
“How is it going?”
“Great! It’s going well. We’re doing great, yep.”
Is that so. “How is it really going?”
“Well, this week is good.”
“Last week, not so much.”
And the wall came a-tumbling down.
“Nobody warned me it would be like this. How do women have more than one!?”
Sister, I get you. I see you looking all calm and happy for the shiny people at church, but I also know you were probably juggling a mascara wand, a lanolin tube and a screaming baby in your hands three minutes before you were due out the door to make it to the first service on time. You are beautiful, and so is your miracle child from God, yet I would not be shocked if you told me you didn’t feel beautiful because you can’t fit into anything besides your husband’s jogging pants, and your curling iron disappeared under a stack of nursing pads and used burp rags.
Keep hanging on.
It’s okay to feel like you’re falling apart. Because, in many ways, you are. Life will never be the same again. But eventually—sooner than you fear—it will be better than before.
Right now, on my countertop sits a packet of paperwork for kindergarten registration. My firstborn is heading to full-time school next fall, a bittersweet new era in the Kopitzke household. I don’t know who has grown more over the last five years—my daughter or me. Before I step one foot out of this stage of mommydom to venture toward the next, I feel compelled to write these thoughts for you dear new mommies. Because I’m afraid I’ll forget.
Because now my darling girl can tie her own shoes, and buckle her own car seat, and pour her own cereal, and play quietly with her little sister while I fix a salad. And I start thinking, hey, this isn’t so tough, this is fun, life is grand, and then I make googly eyes at my husband and whisper, “Should we have another baby?” And the answer is NO! NO! Don’t you REMEMBER?
Yes. I remember the hard stuff. But I also remember this:
I remember sitting mesmerized by the perfect, miniature face sleeping in the crook of my elbow, and weeping suddenly when I imagined her growing up and moving to college.
I remember detecting that first authentic, non-gassy smile—a paycheck for eight weeks of unrequited, laborious love—and cheering like we’d just won the lottery.
I remember the hormonal fog lifting, my strength returning after months of little sleep, and seeing God standing before me—where he’d been all along.
You are not alone.
The day our first daughter was born, every nurse, every lactation consultant, even the cleaning lady at the hospital told us, “Enjoy every minute! It goes so fast!”
For you, new ones, the days are not fast. They are long. And while the rewards eventually outweigh every challenge, I don’t want to forget how it felt in the beginning, if forgetting means I will not be able to relate anymore. Or worse, if my forgetting makes you feel like you’re doing something wrong.
You are not doing it wrong. You’re a mom. Welcome.
So—I’m asking a favor. You new moms can help me—and generations of moms to come—prevent the onset of mommy amnesia. Simply remind us what it’s like. Be vulnerable. Shed the “fine, I’m doing fine” mask and spill your exhausted guts. We’re your allies. We can take it. Then let us hug you, counsel you, validate you, encourage you. Let us carry the burden for a little while.
And someday soon, when your baby starts pouring her own cereal, I hope you’ll reach out to the new moms in your life and pay it forward.
Okay, then. If I see you with a newborn bubba in your arms and I ask, how’s it going?—tell me anything good, bad, or ugly. But please, please, please—don’t lie to me. Your honesty can spark a revival of moms supporting moms.
We need each other. Are you in?