Today was a hard day, but it reopened my new-mommy eyes. So if you’re a mom, hear me out…
For nine months, Esme was held by me, by my stretching skin and aching joints, as close as anyone could (or will) ever be to me: her tiny feet on my heart, her tiny face near my bellybutton. I cherished the moments she would press her hands against my flesh, or dig her heel into my rib cage, or when I would be watching tv, shirt rolled up and waiting for her movements…to then see the outline of her foot trace a rainbow shape on my skin in the dim light.
Now, she is out here.
I can set her down and do other things; put her in the mamaroo, lay her in a bassinet, prop her in a boppy or sprawl her on the floor. When we go out, she can sleep in her carrier.
But lately, she won’t have any of it. When she’s not feeding, she’s awake, and when she’s awake it seems, she’s crying.
Until I pick her up.
Or nurse her.
She cries until I scoop her to my chest, let her bury her fuzzy head against my earlobe, and I rest my cheek on her forehead. Her muscles relax, she sighs in that shuddery way babies do when they’re catching their breath from screaming, her tears dry and she falls asleep.
And I realized today that the most terrible thing EVER…is when this agitates me.
I can’t do laundry or sort papers, shower, nap, complete chores, eat or even use the restroom. I think, “why can’t you just let me set you down??”
But tonight I thought of things from her point of view:
For her whole life, she’s been held…tightly, warmly, patiently. Never wanting or needing for anything. “Mom” was all around her.
Then she was born, and all of a sudden, life is all vibrating bassinets and lumpy carriers and mechanical rockers and artificial heartbeat sounds. It’s always either a little too hot or a little too cold, diapers too wet or too dry, and there’s hunger and tiredness and not a single word she knows how to use for any of it. Mom is across the room, or out of the house, or upstairs, but no longer “all around.”
If that were me, wouldn’t I want a hug?
So tonight as my half-eaten salad sat wilting on the table, papers I was sorting lay in piles over every inch of the floor, loose bobby pins dangled from my undone hair, spit up dried on my shoulder emails saved themselves to the draft folder yet again, and she lay screaming in her bassinet despite being fed/changed/entertained, the weight of her need hit me like a ton of bricks:
The weight of how fast she is growing and changing.
Yes, my back aches…and everything else, but how much longer will she weigh so little I can swoop her in into my arms in a swift and easy movement?
How much longer until she decides toys are too fun to bother with cuddling with me?
How long until she is crawling and walking and forever traveling in other directions besides mine?
How much longer do I have left to be her only comfort, love and joy?
Not long at all…
With renewed tenderness towards this innocent and perfect (although loud) little person, I drew her up onto my shoulder, and just held her. I held her and breathed her in, sang to her until my voice tickled, and swayed with her until my vertebrae groaned. I told her stories until her eyes fluttered closed, and when her tears sprang up again, I repeated all of it. And repeated it and repeated it until she finally drifted off laying on my pillow to the 115th repetition of “let me call you sweetheart.”
As a mom, you can’t beat yourself up about occasional resentment, or exhaustion, or frustration. After all, before this, you WERE an individual with verifiable selfish needs that were no problem to indulge. You’re not perfect. Missing the old “you” happens…
But after you have that moment…where you curse, where you throw up your hands, or text your husband or call your mom, where you eye the bottle of wine in the fridge longingly, or heck—just the outside world on the other side of the window that calls your name…where you burst into tears…or raise your eyes to the sky and beg “what?!” and then “why?!”…
Just remember that you’re feeling this way…because you’re entering a whole new world.
And after that, remember:
so is she.
And revert back to the tenderness you felt when her existence was still just a dance of footprints on your belly…
Because someday, she will be but a footprint on your memory…and that’s if your lucky.
So these are the precious days.
These long, trying, weary and
Breathe her in while she’s still just a breath away.
13 thoughts on “A READING FOR A HARD DAY (AND FOR EVERY DAY)”
I read your post, and it was so beautiful. I’m due in 2 months…busy hydrologist by day and I co-own a monthly newspaper by night? Weekend? Whenever I have time.
My newspaper is open forum, we take submissions from everyone, “Allowing all voices to be heard.” I would very, very much like to print this in our September issue with your permission. We cannot pay, unfortunately, but I’d be more than happy to plug your blog and send you a few print issues.
I was making sure I’d responded to this. YES, that would be wonderful. Print away. I’d love to see copies once it’s done. Sorry this is delayed. Could have sworn I responded, but wanted to make sure in case I had not. Hope it’s not too late. Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks!
HI Kristen, I couldn’t remember if I replied to this, but I tried to way back when! If publishing is still an issue, yes I’d be honored. You can reach me at email@example.com to talk more. Thanks!
I love your perspective as a mother and as a person. I love the way you express your heartfelt thought to others as a helpful hint or guide. you are very enthusiastic about life and being a mother, and that’s a wonderful thing. in my day we did not have the internet or phones that could communicate to others as we do now. we were a lower, middle class family and both my parents had to work so I saw very little of my parents at home there was very little time for family it was all about what had to be done and what needed to be taken care of for the family to survive we didn’t have sitters back then we babysit our selves. I was 12 years old when I began working at a fruit stand and worked most my life, even during my pregnancies. so when my children were born at 2 months old I went back to work. I never had the opportunity to get to know them and to grow with them in life. I truly appreciate you being who you are and its great what you are doing for mothers out there that have no one to help them along. So continue what it is you are doing, because I’m sure God has his hand over you and the angels are praising you…Many Blessings!
I find myself coming back to your blog when I need reassurance. None of my friends know what it’s like so it’s hard to seek advice from them, especially on the hardest days when my daughter wants nothing but to be held by me. I get so easily frustrated because of it, but your entries have opened my eyes to a new perspective. Thank you, and keep up the beautiful work; like you said, breathe her in while she’s still just a breath away.
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Thank you thank you for writing to me! Moms like you are my inspiration for even sharing the simple thoughts (which I feel are my own) but in reality are shared by moms everywhere. You will get through this. You are stronger than you know, and YOU ARE MADE FOR THIS!!!
I stumbled across this at the perfect time! I sit here at 3:30am with my 5week old totally asleep on my chest. But I can’t lay him down and try for those precious few more hours of sleep because every time I have tried, he wakes up and cries for me. this post reassured me that I’m doing the right thing! Thanks 🙂
Beautiful, just beautiful. Thank you for writing this and sharing your heart. There is always time for other things. There is rarely enough time to just breathe in the sweetness of that baby soft skin and that complete trust that she puts in you to just make everything OK by holding her next to you. You will never regret the laundry that didn’t get done on time, or the dinner that didn’t quite turn out as you planned. But no matter how much time you get to spend with her – and I know this because I was a stay at home mom and spent as much time as I possibly could with my children until they were grown – it will never seem like enough once she is no longer tiny and dependent enough on you to believe that you can make anything at all in the world better with just a kiss. It all changes far too soon, so I’m very glad for you that you have discovered the depth of your importance to her and to her peace and well being, beyond the obvious diaper changing, feeding and protecting. I applaud you for speaking out honestly in a world where the joys of motherhood are frequently brushed aside and even mocked by those who either had kids and didn’t “get it”, or have never experienced what you have just described. You are the better one for it 🙂
I read your beautiful story, smiling all the while, because I have been there twice and know that it is worth every minute , to share those precious (yes sometimes frustrating) times. when I look at my two beautiful, grown daughters now I am so glad I spent those times holding Gis & Chris close instead of cleaning and washing and everything else. We created a bond- more touching and deeper and true in those moments of holding and with memories for me, than any clean house or part thereof. Thank you
Sarah! I sit here reading your story as i hold my 8 month old ( girl) sound asleep on my chest with everything hanging out from nursing her. Ppl have told me all the time” don’t let your baby sleep on you or she’ll never let you lay her down” well is it better to have her wake up every twenty minutes, having had a crappy nap laying in the pack n play crying, or is it better that i hold her sound asleep on my chest for hopes of a better nap??? Thanks fur your words
Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing this with us!!! As I read this I had tears in my eyes remembering all the long nights/days my husband and I spent with our son sleeping in our arms or on our chest, both so exhausted but also so mesmerized by the look of relief and comfort on his face. Sound asleep, happy as can be knowing that when he opened his eyes Mommy was always going to be right there. I was constantly told “put him down, don’t hold him while he sleeps, let him cry, he’s never going to let you sleep alone, he’s never going to be independent” and at first I listened. It happened ONE time!!! I decided to put him in his bassinet and prayed he’d fall asleep. I stood over his bed for ten mins watching my baby scream, his only way of begging me to pick him up, while a family member stood next to me and said “don’t pick him up he needs to learn to comfort himself” and I couldn’t stand it!!! I picked him up and he instantly quit crying and fell asleep. No my son did not need to learn to comfort himself. That’s MY job!!! I am his Mother, I am his peace, his joy, his safety and his comforter. Now, 4 years later, I have the most beautiful, sweet, intelligent little boy God could have blessed me with!!! And he still follows me around everywhere I go reminding me that I am still all of those things for him. Sometimes the laundry didn’t get done, dinner didn’t get cooked, dishes didn’t get washed, and Mama didn’t get a shower but my son was always right there with me happy, safe, comfortable, and loved!!! And at the end of the day my child’s happiness was my only concern. All those other things could wait but my son wasn’t and will never be expected to!!! Thank you again for showing us other Mommy’s that we’re not wrong for catering to our babies and their needs and that we’re also not alone!!! God bless you as a woman and mother!!!
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I love this post. I could have written it myself (well, the general thoughts and it wouldn’t be nearly as eloquent and beautiful). Thank you for making me realize I’m not the only one feeling these feelings. Love your blog!
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