Dearest New Mama,
The moment you gave birth, did you feel the change? Something amazing happened; a part of you died and a new part of you came alive. This little creation of part you - part man - part God - all love - has taken over your world, and it's no longer about you.
This little human is the embodiment of your highest joys and your darkest fears. Things you never thought much about (poop, mainly, but also the state of the world and the price of a college education) will become daily concerns.
But YOU still matter. Your heart, your mind, your thoughts, your dreams and prayers...they may feel fuzzy and jumbled for now but you are still you, a woman made for a special and specific purpose. You might feel like that woman is lost or adrift (or asleep!), but don't worry, she'll return soon enough.
Guard your heart against comparison. You are the only mama your child needs, the wife your husband wants, the woman your friends adore and the daughter and sister your family loves. A break from blogs, websites, magazines, books, and television shows that lead to self-doubt and feelings of inadequacy is worth considering. Pursue only those things that inspire and encourage you.
Write your ideal expectations for yourself and your new baby on a sheet of paper, then crumple it up and throw it away. Or better yet, burn it.
Instead, pay attention and get caught up in the tiniest moments. A brush of baby eyelash, the smell of sweet milk-breath, a tiny earlobe, the rhythm of their heartbeat, and the skin between their toes. Their fingernails are so teeny, their hair so soft...how is it that you created this beautiful creature? Amidst the crying, the sleep deprivation, and the messes, these little observations will keep your spirits afloat. This is what matters.
Not laundry. Not dishes. Not being baby-crafty or having a trendy nursery. There is a time and a place for those activities, but now is definitely not the time.
Make cuddling a priority.
Rejoice when you take a shower, or put on something other than yoga pants.
Take a self portrait whenever you do your hair or put on makeup, because in the beginning, those days are few and far between.
In the hard moments it's okay to cry.
In the happy moments it's okay to cry.
In the random moments, it's also okay to cry.
When you wonder if your baby loves you, know that you are the definition of the word in her little world.
On the difficult days, abandon your routine. Get in the car and drive. Put on music and dance. Wrap them up and go for a walk. Get ice cream, sit in the park, and listen to the birds sing. Leave the house even if it's just to run to the store for eggs. On these days, the schedule becomes the enemy and fresh air does wonders.
Know that it's okay if you don't want to leave your baby right away for a "date-night" or just to "get away." You'll know when the time is right, and when it is, get gone!
Resist the pity party. This is so very hard, especially on those difficult days. Find inspiration and encouragement that speaks to your soul and cling to it fiercely. Find friends and mentors who build you up, not tear you or your kids down. Mothering requires sacrifice, yes, but it is not a terrible burden.
Remember that for as much parenting wisdom is out there, your mama-intuition trumps an expert's opinion.
Mothering will take all that you are and even more than you thought you had. Savor, wonder, laugh, snuggle, and store up special moments in your heart. This time is precious and will be forever imprinted on your heart.
You are Loved,
This is part of the Mother Letters link-up to promote the inspiring Mother Letters ebook, curated by Amber and Seth Haines. Click here to view more details.