An Open Letter to New Moms on Mother's Day

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Jessie Christensen Photography

Dear New Mom -

I get it. This is my second year celebrating our day alongside all of the other moms. My first Mother's Day, my daughter was only a few months old. I didn't feel like them, I thought. I didn't really deserve to be in the mom club. Sure, I had a baby, but I had nothing figured out. I didn't feel polished or put together or organized. I wasn't confident or certain, not even mildly so.

This year, I'm still not any of those things, but instead of feeling different than the other moms, like I might not measure up, I realize now that imperfections define us and leaning on each other makes us stronger. We are in a club. We learn together, we band together, and we get through things together.

Moms, let's get real. Your new job of being a mom is a messy one. You're tired. You're alone, although you're probably surrounded by people that love you and your new baby. You're unsure, you're scared, and you're tired. You're tired. I know I already mentioned that, but it's an overwhelming kind of tired, so it needs to be mentioned again. And everything you're feeling is totally normal.

Something unfair happened. Someone, somewhere made us believe that having a family is easy work and that it should just come natural to us. Moms are portrayed as always so happy, never having down moments or tough days. That our babies will always be smiley and easily nurse, and sleep through the night because we trained them early on, and that we can do it all -- work, family, shop, cook, clean, and the like and still have time to romance our husbands and stay caught up on Scandal. Yeah, right.

The reality is that all of that just isn't true. It isn't possible, New Mom. And once we can get to a place of admitting that we can't be everything to everyone, New Mom, we can slow down and focus on the one thing that we can be, ourselves, which is exactly what our family needs.

Dishes can wait. Laundry can wait. It's okay to order takeout or let your friends bring you freezer meals. That friend who said she'd come snuggle your baby while you take a hot bath? Call her. Asking for help is not admitting defeat. It's allowing someone who loves you step in and snuggle your new baby. People want to help, and we have to ask for it when we need it.

You're going to get mad at your partner. You'll get mad when they go out with their friends, and then you'll feel guilty for getting mad. You'll feel resentful that they get to take a break when you're tethered to the baby. And then you'll feel guilty for wanting to be anywhere else but being tethered to the baby. Here's my advice to you -- take a walk. Get outside. Bring the baby and breathe some fresh air. Talk to your partner. Express what you need. Enjoy a glass of wine, if that's your thing. (That is totally my thing, by the way.)

I remember those first few months, New Mom. I remember those trenches that you're fighting in. On this Mother's Day, with a new found screen to view our own moms, we appreciate them a whole lot more. When we were kids, our first memories were when we were a bit older. We don't remember those early days and months of our own lives, but our moms do. I realize my little girl won't remember the timed-hourly wake ups so I could feed her, or the mornings I woke up, my shirt soaked with my own milk. She'll have no idea about the tears I shed on my first overnight work trip, or the hours I spent researching the right crib and car seat and rocker and blanket and tub and so much more, even before she got here. She won't remember the freezer full of milk I pumped, to make sure she always had enough, or even the skill I carefully crafted of cutting every little piece of food into a safe size, still worrying that it wasn't small enough and watching her every swallow.

She won't have any idea how often I Googled things in the middle of the night. She'll always remember having teeth, but not how much I pained watching them slowly, agonizingly, pop through. She won't remember dancing in the living room to her Grandpa's favorite rock and roll songs he taught me to love, and how big my heart swelled when she took her first steps. She won't remember smiling at me for the first time, and how much that moment changed my life. She'll never know these things, until she's a mom.

You probably don't recognize your own body. Your pants fit tighter than before, if they zip at all, and you're not comfortable in your old wardrobe. You rock yoga pants and zip up hoodies and ponytails, because they are easier, and also because they are forgiving of your new body. You might find a minute to hit the gym, but you'd rather spend that minute snuggling your baby and not jogging on a treadmill, so you don't go. And then you're upset, because again, you're tethered. And the guilt sets in.

The weight of all of the emotion you're feeling is heavy. It's crushing. So much is resting on your shoulders, New Mom. And you can't explain it, you can't describe it, but it just is. And I get it. We all get it, because we're moms.

You are a superhero now, New Mom. With only your body, you created another being. Before you brought your new baby home, you probably needed eight hours of sleep. You couldn't imagine being awake at 3:00 a.m., unless you were closing down the local bar, and if that was the case, you'd sleep in until ten. You probably didn't miss meals because you forgot, and showers were probably part of your daily ritual instead of what is now a luxury.

Now, you function on little sleep. You might go a few days without a shower. You might not even remember where your favorite body wash or scented candles are, because you haven't used them in months. Your last check before you leave the house isn't in the mirror to make sure you look okay, but it's double and triple checking that you have all of the baby's supplies for the hour you might be away from home. You have a first, new full time job as a mother, a second full time job as a strategic planner, and if you're a working mom, there's that you're doing too. Not to mention your original job of being a wife, a daughter and a friend. But. you are doing it. You are doing all of it, even when you think you aren't doing it well, you are, and you should be proud. I promise, you will surprise yourself with how much of a superhero you are.

New Mom, I have a challenge for you. Because it's not just one day a year we work hard, sleep little, and love a lot. It's every day, every hour, every minute and every second. I challenge you on this Mother's Day to share your gratitude with your own mom if you can. And if that person who loved you, cared for you, worried over you isn't a "mom" at all, be sure to share your love with that person too. And for yourself, remember to take time each and every day to breathe deeply and appreciate the gift you've been given of being a mom to your new baby. It's undoubtedly the hardest job in the world, but it's so worth it.

Happy Mother's Day.

This piece was previously published on Meagan's site Life at Lancaster Land.

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