I see you there, Mama.
It’s been a rough day, hasn’t it? I know because, as I’m writing this, I’m right there with you.
Maybe you’re struggling to shower and change out of your pajamas, with a sink full of dishes and baby spit-up soaking your shoulder. Maybe you don’t recognize yourself in the mirror anymore, with your hair disheveled, your eyes puffy and tired, and your body stretched and squishy after it gave everything it had to make a new life.
You used to have interests, friends, romance, a life. Now you are lonely, even in the presence of a tiny person all day.
Or maybe you started your day with a toddler crying hysterically for no apparent reason. Maybe she refused to brush her teeth, threw herself on the floor when it was time to get dressed, and practically barked at you for suggesting she might want a coat, all before 8:00 am. Maybe she behaved delightfully for her caregivers while you were at work, but as soon as you picked her up, she just started screaming again.
Maybe she was upset because six comes after five, and the football stadium wasn’t where she wanted it to be, and she most certainly did NOT want her favorite food for dinner. Maybe that dinner ended up on the floor, she refused to brush her teeth again, and she went to bed crying, just like she woke up. Meanwhile, you’re struggling to keep the house maintained and everyone’s appointments made and meals prepared, because you’re the default parent. Even though you work, too, those responsibilities fall to you because your partner’s schedule is less flexible and your mom guilt is too strong.
Maybe you’re up way too late on the weekends, not because you’re having fun, but because you’re worried about how much “fun” your teenager might be finding. Maybe your little buddy disappeared all too soon and was replaced with a taller, more sullen version of himself who shuts you out with his one-word mumbled responses to your attempts at connecting with him. Maybe every day is a battle, with too much shouting, not enough hugging, and worry creeping over you at night like a blanket that’s far too snug.
Maybe you’re experiencing all of these scenarios simultaneously. Maybe you are exhausted.
Maybe you have had enough.
Mama, you are not alone.
No matter what you’re going through, someone else has been right there with you (or will be soon). Motherhood is hard, and just when you have figured out one stage, it’s time to move on to the next one. But remember – especially on the bad days – that to your child, you are a rock.
You will slowly but surely emerge from the newborn haze, sleep through the night, and begin to feel like yourself again. In the meantime, you are building trust and a sense of security into your baby by responding so faithfully to his needs.
The pint-sized storm raging through your home will return to her former sweet self again, maybe as early as this afternoon. Your calm but firm presence helps her feel safe enough to show her frustration as she tries to make sense of a big, confusing world and deal with her conflicting desires for closeness and independence. You are her constant, the refuge where she can safely explore her emotions.
One day, he may even have a child of his own and begin to realize the loving agony of parenting, in which a job well done means slowly making yourself obsolete.
The moody teenager pulling away from you will grow up soon and come to understand your boundaries and appreciate your guidance. One day, he may even have a child of his own and begin to realize the loving agony of parenting, in which a job well done means slowly making yourself obsolete. In the meantime, he knows deep down that he still needs you, and he’s glad that you always come back even when he pushes you away.
So take care of yourself, Mama. Tomorrow is a new day.