In case they never told you, you are allowed to be so bone-weary all you can think of is you and sleep and how overwhelmed you are.
It’s okay. You’re supposed to think of you.
You’re supposed to still dream and reach for the things you want, for the things you need.
And it’s also okay to be too tired to reach for anything but the hand of someone to support you. It’s okay to ask for help.
I was 22.
First few days of bliss and falling in love with those new, yet age-old eyes of his.
And then it hit.
Like a cyclone of out-of-control thoughts and out-of-control emotions—it hit.
And I never asked for help.
I’m telling you: ask for help.
Help does not mean weakness.
Help means your village shows up with food, with extra arms, with ears that listen, with words that can advise. For moments when you can rest your weary heart and mind, and sleep.
Ask for help.
In case they never told you, Mama, it’s okay to tell him that your swollen breasts hurt too much to be touched. It’s okay to tell him that while you love him, you love someone else now, too. Someone whose whole existence depends on the depth of your love and your giving, and that your giving is almost dried up right now.
It’s okay to tell him that this will change and grow as your baby changes and grows, but for right now, what you need is for him to be the one you fell in love with. The strong arms and soft heart. The one who pretended to understand, even when you were incomprehensible. It’s okay to ask him to be what you need him to be right now.
In case no one ever told you, everything you feel is normal.
In this paradoxical world of give and take and energy and depletion, it’s okay to feel it all. The agony and joy of being responsible. The love in the midnight hours—baby to breast or bottle, in your arms, the soft patch of hair, the baby noises, the clock ticking on the wall. All those things you can snapshot in your memory for later, to take out the first time you have to let go of your baby’s hand. And it’s okay for you to cry when it is that midnight hour and you haven’t slept in what seems like days, or months.
It’s okay to feel it all.
And in case no one ever told you, it’s okay to miss your old life. Change means adjustment. These little lives grow and change us, but it doesn’t happen overnight. Nine months of gestation to bring a life into this life. Nine months more to figure out that you can choose how you create your life now.
You are an artist of epic proportions.
Sculpting memories so personal, only you will know what you want your life to look like and only you will remember the talents you possessed before the immense task of parenting began.
You are not gone.
Carl Jung said that nothing has a bigger impact on the psychology of a child than the unlived life of the parent, so don’t forget the life, and the dreams, you had before. They’re still in you.
If you sing, keep singing. Teach the baby your love of music.
If you paint, keep painting. Children are creative by nature.
If you love to hike, take your baby into the forest with you—maybe a playgroup just isn’t your thing. Children are new to the planet. Let their eyes be filled.
Whatever you used to do that lifted you up, made you feel alive and lost in time, make sure you do it. It will benefit you; it will benefit your relationships. It will benefit your child to one day know that his or her needs are important, too.
Live a whole life—a full life.
None of that is wrong.
So, in the early days when you’re still struggling to find out what your new normal is with this new and beautiful little being so dependent on you, remember, you are not gone. You are you. Your soul is still yours. If you can’t get right back to doing what you used to do before life changed and brought more beauty and demands on you, remember that one day you can weave who you were then into the tapestry of who you are now.
Those eyes, they watch us. They learn from us. Let’s teach them to be whole people by doing what we love to do while loving them all the while.
Love your baby. Love your partner. But don’t forget to love yourself, too.
Author: Glynis Barr
Editor: Nicole Cameron