This piece to any dear new mama has been on my heart to write for a while. Words I would share with myself if I could go back in time, words I want to say to those lovely mamas with newborns who I pass out and about. Motherhood, that great, wonderful, crazy thing.
Dear new mama,
Oh mama. These days with a new baby- your first baby- are like an overwhelming tide of things, all at once. So much joy, so much love, so much feeding and unknown. You created this little life, this tiny person actually has been hiding inside you for months and now, only now you see them can you start to comprehend that reality. There are the tiny fingers, the toes, the legs all scrunched up and the funny noises.
And you- you are transforming and it’s beautiful and hard and nothing like anything anyone can accurately convey to you before it happens. Your heart is transforming as you hold this little life close to you, feeling the weight of the responsibility as they depend on you. You are exhausted, joyful- you want to hold this bundle close to you but you long to have a shower alone.
You have years to grow together, to discover each other and learn as this little one grows day by day, teaching you as much about yourself as you are teaching them.
Motherhood is – as you are already discovering- hard and beautiful. Overwhelming and so joyful. These early days are some pretty intense introductions to the high and lows of having children- but they will change and grow and so will you.
Society likes to show us only some of the aspects of motherhood- the beautiful, edited views that make it all magical and wonderful that can leave you wondering why it doesn’t always seem that way for you. Or the focus on all the really hard parts of parenting, the joys of toddler meltdowns and the general feeling of winging it. The truth is some combination of those and so many other things. Your life will never sit entirely in one camp or the other, motherhood never easy to sum up and wrap up in one simple experience.
Whether you feel on top of the world and confident in every aspect of your new Mama role or treading water somewhere completely out your depth, you are doing great, and you will find your stride for the long term. Day by day you will learn more about the little life that has entered yours and whilst the little lega unfold and learn to move, crawl, walk, so too will your motherhood legs develop beneath you, gradually getting stronger and more confident with each stride you take.
Remember that it is good to let people in and say yes when they offer to help. It makes you stronger, makes your roots deeper and your family bigger when you allow others in, even when everything seems so new and sacred. Say yes, even when you don’t know what you need. Say yes please even when you don’t know what you are saying yes to, and work out when you need to say no and spend some quality time just you and your newly formed family. If no one is offering, work out what you need and how you can ask for that. If you need an hour alone, get it. If you need someone to clean your house for a spell, swap with someone for something else or hire a cleaner. If you need to let go of some things you’ve always needed to do theb let go of them, just for a while. When baby is bigger, sleeping better, a toddler or a child- continue to let people in. You are giving them a gift and one day you will be able to pour out similarly on someone else who needs your love.
Be kind to yourself. However little it feels like you are accomplishing compared to life before- you are doing great. Keeping yourself and your little one fed and rested and loved as best as you can is the most amazing thing. Motherhood is very hard to quantify and it can be hard when there are no external measurements of your success other than the levels of crying and sleeping in your home- so let me tell you now that you are doing a wonderful job. Really and truly. Regardless of your hormones or your sleep levels or how long ago you showered or spent more than half an hour by yourself. You can do this.
Give yourself some mental space. Even if you can’t fathom leaving the house without the baby or spending any of your free time not sleeping- you can let yourself have five minutes here and there just to stop and reflect. You don’t have to make time to yourself complicated- just switch off the internet or the tv or anything else that is subconsciously affecting you. Write down all those swirly whirly feelings about motherhood, the little wins from your day. Muddle through those feelings, record the small moments and the big moments, work out trut what is behind the words you are telling yourself. Give yourself the gift of some breathing room because allowing yourself to process this crazy wonderful journey will be a great gift.
Don’t do this alone. Don’t feel like you have to be brave, strong or perfect. Give your love, give your time and open up to love from everyone around you.
Enjoy the journey.