Dear New Mom,
I see you, bleary eyed and exhausted. And I remember being you. When you nearly shoved your newborn in my arms for a break from her crying, I remembered nearly shoving my own newborn in another been there-done that mamma's arms so that I could have a break.
When you asked if she would ever sleep, I chuckled. Not because I thought the question was funny but because it brought back the memory of the day my husband came home from work to see me with tears streaming down my cheeks and me saying, "I'm never going to sleep again as long as I live!" I remember sobbing and feeling so alone. I remember being convinced that life would never be "normal" again.
Let me tell you this, you are not alone. You are not the only mother to wonder if you will ever again close your eyes for more than a couple of hours at a time. You are not the only mamma who longs for a cup of coffee that is still hot when you finish it or for a meal the temperature it was intended to be.
You are not the first mom to wonder if you are doing something wrong when that sweet bundle of joy in your arms is anything but sweet, when all he does is cry. You aren't the only one who wonders at times why you thought becoming a mom seemed so glamorous before the baby came along and now it just seems loud and exhausting and not glamorous at all.
I don't think I could say it loud enough, YOU ARE NOT ALONE! I've been there too. I've been the mom living in fear of not being enough for these tiny little ones who needed everything done for them and most of it needed to be done by me. I've been the mom who tried to sneak into the shower while the baby was sleeping blissfully only to hear his cries the moment I got under the warm water.
During those days with babies and toddlers hanging on me as if they were superglued to my side I looked forward to two things that helped me through those times. One was going to the grocery store. Before you stop reading and assume that I've completely lost my mind because no mom in her right mind wants to load up kids in carseats to go to the store, listen to the reason. I specifically went to one King Soopers, the one close enough to the retirement community that its aisles were always filled with little old ladies. Every single time I went in with kids in tow some beautiful old lady would touch my arm and remind me that I was going to make it through these days. I can't tell you how many times I heard stories like, "Oh, I remember trying to shop with all of my kids too. Those were hard days but so worth it. You're doing a great job mamma. You're going to make it through this." Those old ladies were my strength on days when I wasn't sure how to cope. They reminded me that motherhood is hard but it is also beautiful and worth it. A few times, on difficult days, I even made up reasons to go to the grocery store just to hear their words of encouragement.
The other thing that I looked forward to with a passion was MOPS (mother's of preschoolers). To sit a table with other moms who were sleep deprived, and leaking in awkward places, with dried baby food in their hair was refreshing. To walk in crying when my husband lost his job and to have arms surround me showed me we had a support network. When I was ill, these moms brought my family dinner. During rough financial times they sent encouraging notes and grocery gift cards. When I was on bed rest during my second pregnancy they came and cleaned my house top to bottom for me so that I wouldn't be stressed about it. MOPS saved my sanity, made me a better wife and mother, helped me to see myself as a beautiful daughter of the King, encouraged me as a woman, proved that there really was a leader in this mess of a woman and pulled her out, and brought me some amazing lifelong friends.
So, my dear new mom (and those of you whose babies now sleep through the night but you still wonder if they will ever pee in the toilet or buckle their own seatbelts) I have this encouragement for you; you will one day sleep again. You will make it through this season, this beautiful and crazy and often messy season of mothering. And I have this advice for you; find a grocery store where the old ladies shop. They love to reminisce and they are great encouragers. And the second bit of advice, find yourself a MOPS group where you can be real about your own beautiful mess!
Though I can't help you find the right grocery store, I can help you get to MOPS. MOPS International has given me the opportunity to give away one free membership ($23.95 value). Here is how the giveaway works. Leave me a comment and tell me 1. your name (crazy how I would need that information to give you something, isn't it?) 2. the part of motherhood that is currently overwhelming 3. the part of mothering that is currently the most beautiful (yes, it is ok to say when the baby is finally asleep!) The winner will be selected on Friday September 27 as part of my family's Friday Fun Night. As the mom of all boys the choosing of the winner will involve lots of fun and laughter and possibly either Nerf guns or Regurgitating Rico (the Penguins of Madagascar toy that shoots yellow "popcorn" balls out of Rico's mouth).
*Disclaimer: you don't have to be the mom to win but you do have to have someone in mind to give the membership to. So if you're a dad and your wife needs MOPS, tell me about it. Tell me what makes your wife an amazing mom. If you're a Grandma and your daughter needs MOPS, tell me about it. Tell me about why she needs MOPS. If you're an auntie and your sister needs MOPS, tell me about it. I think you get the picture. I don't want any mom to miss out on what was one of the most amazing experiences of my early mothering years just because it's someone else who is reading this instead of her!