To that exhausted, terrified, overwhelmed, and frustrated new mom,
As I write this, you are wondering if you’re in over your head with this motherhood thing. I get it! I’ve been there! You are wondering if you will ever have any semblance of your normal life back! Actually, first and foremost, you’re wondering if you’ll ever sleep again. You’re wondering how you can possibly be expected to keep up this frantic pace, physically and emotionally, for the foreseeable future. You’re wondering if there’s something wrong with you, because you’re not immediately happy and delighted about being a mother. All you feel is tired and confused. I want to tell you three things that I hope you will try and remember. Maybe they will help you start to swim, instead of just barely treading water.
First, I’m here to tell you that you and your child will sleep again. I promise you, all your friends and family, who are telling you that this won’t be forever and that you will get on a more normal sleep schedule, aren’t lying to you. It really will happen. They aren’t just patronizing you. Most of them are remembering their own sleep-deprived days and telling you that there really is a light at the end of the tunnel, because they witnessed their own. You will sleep again and so will your child. And you will be amazed at just how wonderful you will both feel after just a little normal sleep. It will get better! In the meantime, it’s okay to drink lots of coffee and cry when your child wakes up at 4 AM, again.
Second, you will find a rhythm and routine. All of this feeding, changing, dressing, extra cleaning and cooking, and laundry, eventually won’t feel so crazy and impossible to handle. You will find a new normal, where all the stuff that needs to be done every day won’t be so intense. That routine looks very different for every family, but you’ll find yours. And it’s very okay if it doesn’t look like the way your mom did things or how your best friend runs her home or how your favorite parenting expert says you should do this or that. All that matters is that you will find your normal. And sometimes, if at the end of a day, all that has happened is that your child was fed, dressed and fairly clean, that’s enough! It’s all right if you didn’t get to the dishes in the sink or read her all the books or color all the pictures with her. Not everything has to be done every day.
Third, you really are capable of more than you think you are! I realize this sounds very cliche and trite, but it’s still true. You can raise these little people! You won’t do it perfectly, no one does! But you will do it. You will give them food, keep them clean, play them, read to them and help them grow and explore their world. You will have hard, rough days. But you won’t break your kids! You and they, in the end, will be okay.
But even though you are capable, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Don’t feel like you’re more of a mom or a better mom if you do it alone. Seek guidance from older women, yes, even and maybe especially your own mother. You never know, your parenting struggles may shed some light on why your mother parented the way she did. Parenting is probably the hardest job you’ll ever do. So why do the hardest work alone? Learn and grow with other mothers. Laugh, vent and cry with them.
Lastly, Just take this new journey one moment at a time. Remember to breathe. If you need to step away for five minutes, to gather your sanity, that’s okay and it doesn’t make you weak. Learn to pray and lean on God. Motherhood will show you how much you truly need Him to change you! Trust Him like you never have before. It will be incredible to look back later on all you have learned and grown and exciting to see what new things are in store for you. Hang in there, new mom!
Your slightly less frantic, but still coffee-loving self.