Dear Past Self,
It gets better. You are not incompetent. You are a new mom. No one could possibly have prepared you for the hellacious learning curve that comes after spending 30 years of your life with zero dependents and then being forcefully thrust into having a little person who is 100% dependent on you come into your life, literally overnight. You will need help and that is okay. You’ve spent the majority of your life turning down help because you thought people would think less of you if you couldn’t do everything on your own. You were wrong then and boy are you ever wrong now. The saying “it takes a village” didn’t just materialize without proper cause.
Get out of the house. If you think you are bummed now, you won’t be any better off after 4 weeks of not going anywhere. However, you may take baby steps (haha) if necessary. Going downstairs to get the mail is a good start. Getting the baby in the car seat and down to the car is another good step. Even if you don’t go anywhere. The beauty of it is that the moment you start to panic, you can always turn around and go back home. Even if that moment of panic occurs in the elevator. As soon as the door closes. Before you can even push the button. That’s totally okay. You are not fat, shapeless or ugly. You grew a human being and are nourishing him with your body. You have battle scars to prove it. Own it. This too shall pass. Seriously. Print it out (along with any other positive messages you can think of) multiple times in large font and bright colors and post it in every room of the house. It will help. Find people who understand what you are going through and lean on them. Somehow your individual insanity turns completely normal when you realize you are not going through this alone. Listen to your husband when he tells you that you are an amazing woman and that you are a wonderful mother. Now make sure that you believe it.
Dear Present Self,
You’ve spent the better part of your life waiting until … fill in the blank. You couldn’t wait to be a teenager. To drive. To drink. To have your first full time job. To finally finish that damn degree. To have X amount of dollars saved up. For that boyfriend of yours to just propose already. For your wedding day to get here. For your TTC journey to start. For that pregnancy test to show up positive. For all the milestones in pregnancy. For labor. For the baby to start sleeping through the night, sitting up, crawling, talking …
Hold your damn horses now. Because if there is anything you do NOT want to rush, it’s the precious miracle that is watching a human being grow up right before your eyes. Look at his newborn picture and look at him asleep in his crib today. That was just six short months. They may seem like a blur, but dammit, you need to take a deep breath and soak up every second of him. Not what he will be, what he is like right at this very moment. The softness of his silky hair. The sweetness of his milk breath. How impossibly yummy he smells and soft his skin feels right after a bath. The way his tiny fingers curl around yours so tightly, as if he were holding on for dear life. His little voice, learning new sounds and tones every day; even those screeches are beautiful. Those cute little half teeth poking through his gum. They may be small, but they are razor-sharp. The way every little thing you do is funny and wildly entertaining for him. The little squeaks he makes when he’s dreaming. The gut wrenching sobs and cries that are easily quieted by a tight hug and a “shh” in his ear. The way his body melts into yours when you hold him close; it says that he trusts you and loves you completely, and there is no place in the world that would feel safer and more comfortable. The middle of the night nursing and rocking to sleep when even though you would love to be sleeping, nothing and no one can quite touch the sacredness of these moments alone with your son. Relish these moments and memorize them for future reference. Forget the moments you are ready to tear your hair out and feel like you will never be your former self again. Partly because you are right, you never will be that self again. Your life has changed forever, for the better of course. But mostly because if you don’t forget all the hopeless and desperate moments, how else are you going to convince yourself to do this all over again? (and maybe once more after that?) Look back at where you and your baby are now and see that it is proof that you are an amazing woman and a wonderful mother.
Dear Future Self,
Relish in the fact that if you have been blessed with another (and perhaps one more after that?) miracle of life, you are now SO much wiser this time around. But please, don’t forget to read the other two notes. It’s so easy to forget the little things when they are the most important of all. And I shouldn’t have to remind you of this, but you are an amazing woman and a wonderful mother.