Five years ago this happened.
I thought, “Oh, fuck. What have I gotten myself into?” The look on my face says it all. The postpartum depression hadn’t yet kicked in and I was trying to wrap my brain around this new reality. What I didn’t know was that I was about to undertake the most arduous and difficult rite of passage of my life. Parenthood.
My kiddo was an incredibly challenging baby. He never slept for more than two hours at a time, he wanted to nurse non-stop, and cried constantly. And so did I. Add to that the absence of family or support network and it was a perfect storm.
I can say with absolute certainty that motherhood has been my greatest teacher.
At this point, my husband and I had been together for 10 years and never once fought. That definitely changed after our son was born. We were both pushed to the brink and took it out on each other. It was a very lonely time. But we survived it.
I can say with absolute certainty that motherhood has been my greatest teacher. Over the years, between infancy and my son’s post-op recover, there have been countless long days on the couch together. I’ve never been on a silent meditation retreat, but I imagine it would be pretty similar. The “stuff” starts to bubble up. I came up against these hard little kernels of self-hate and resentment that I knew I needed to let go. I couldn’t be the mother that my son needed while holding on to these things.
And so I softened. And learned.
These days, after all of that, things are finally so much easier and overall pretty fucking fun. But I look at this picture and it makes me remember how hard it is for all new moms. I have so much love and empathy for all new mothers.
Here’s one small piece of advice to those who want to help out a new family and aren’t sure how: Don’t ask, “how can I help?” Just bring a meal. Comfort food. Something that can be frozen and reheated. Bonus points if it comes in a disposable aluminum pan that doesn’t need to be washed. And then just be there when you’re needed.