No matter what your journey to motherhood looked like-the preparation for that first baby is special.
You read book after book even though you know that all babies are different. You google things that your brain tells you not to google. Then, you feel a significant amount of google-regret and unnecessary worry. You purchase and assemble such an impressive amount of baby items that you sit back and seriously consider the affect of your carbon footprint on the planet. And, you listen.
You listen to all kinds of advice regarding motherhood. Some of the advice is sought after. Most of it is not. [I’m looking at you, random people in Walmart.] Everyone and their mama [literally] will warn you about your impending lack of sleep. Other parts of motherhood are rarely discussed. For example, no one will tell you that you will wake yourself up in a panic at 2 AM frantically searching for an infant in your bed who is peacefully sleeping in their bassinet. But, you might.
No matter how much you try to prepare yourself for motherhood, there are some parts of motherhood for which you simply cannot prepare. One of those things is the moment you realize that you are someone’s mama. You are mama forever.
At first, that realization seems very daunting. It feels very constricting. It’s normal. When you become a mama, you meet two new people. You meet the tiny, sweet baby who has officially improved your life forever. You also meet yourself as a mama. She’s new to you as well. She’s stronger, wiser and braver than the person you were before. And as great as mama-you is, it takes time to get used to her. The physical entry into motherhood is sudden, while the mental acceptance of your transition into motherhood takes a little longer. Give yourself grace.
I remember the first few weeks at home with my son. I loved him so fiercely. I would have laid down for my life for him in a second. Simultaneously, I kept wondering when his real parents were coming to pick him up and take him home. Obviously, I knew that wasn’t going to happen. Still, parenthood didn’t feel real. Until it did.
I was sitting in my living room, rocking and nursing this sweet, tiny human who depended on me for every need. I was so tired. New-mama tired. That’s a tired you only know once you’ve experienced it. My brain was screaming at me to sleep, but I couldn’t. My baby needed to eat. Suddenly, I realized that no one was coming to relieve me of this newfound responsibility. No one was coming to let me curl up in bed and binge-watch Netflix and sleep until my heart’s content. No one was going to rescue me from night after night of waking up every few hours to feed my baby. I started crying. Weeping may be a more accurate term. It felt impossible.
How could I keep living on such little sleep? How could I be responsible for keeping another person alive? More importantly, how could I be sure I was going to raise up this little person to make the world a better place? I felt trapped in a new identity that I knew I could never undo. I was his mama forever.
Being mama is such a gift. It’s a blessing I thank God for every morning and every night. But, make no mistake, being mama isn’t easy.
If this feeling feels all too familiar, hang in there. You can do this. Snuggle your baby. Don’t be afraid to call a friend or a neighbor and ask them to come over while you take a shower [or better yet-ask them to do some dishes]. Don’t believe what you see on social media. Forgive yourself for what you say when you are awake for the 36th time in one night. The days are so, so long. The nights can seem even longer. But, the years are so impossibly short. Let yourself ease into motherhood. Someday much sooner than you think, a little voice will call you mama and you won’t think twice.
And when you feel like you may not make it through the day, remember this:
You can do this. You were quite literally made to be mama to your little person.
There is no one on this planted better suited for the job.
Remember that you are strong. Much stronger than you can imagine.
You are mama.