To the brand new mama:
The proud owner of pains large and small, harborer of radical and enormous new feelings, arms full of the sweetest, most soft-skinned revolution, eyes riveted to the human you’ve known for its entire life but only just met.
Mama, I speak to you from almost one and a half years into your future. However, it could be 5 or 20 years; “Mama Time” isn’t linear.
See, Mama Time will have you saying things like, “Last year when we…” and then someone will gently remind you that it happened three years ago.
Mama Time had you thinking 40 weeks wasn’t that long when it so was. But mostly Mama Time’s lies are of the sweeter nature.
Mama Time tells you it has only been a few minutes when the clock says you’ve spent an afternoon in silent wonder watching your newborn sleep.
Mama Time gives us the ability to see our toddler’s expression in our college graduate’s face, to think “my baby” when our grown child sports smile wrinkles and gray hair.
Mama Time has you expecting the plush of an infant’s cheeks and surprised when your teenage age son’s stubble scratches.
Mama Time lends you grace when you tell a stranger your child is 16 months old because you cannot bear to say, “She’s almost one and a half.”
Mama Time is with you when you pump for 30 minutes and get less milk than your girlfriend gets in five. Mama Time holds you while you hold your feverish six-year-old.
Mama Time tells you that those moments don’t define you or your child.
Mama Time tells you that though those five days in the NICU—or five minutes of your toddler’s public meltdown—or five hours waiting up for your teen to come home may feel like forever, but they are not. And those moments don’t define you or your child.
Mostly, Mama Time asks you to love what you’ve got in front of you, even if it’s puking on you or yelling at you or demanding to wear snow boots in August.
Mama Time cautions you not to wish away this sleep regression or those toddler tears or these teenage silences.
Mama Time whispers, “Shhh, it’s okay, my tired dear. Today is hard. Tomorrow might be too. You are made of strength and courage. And you don’t lose any points for hiding in the bathroom a few minutes longer.”
New mama, I see you there, cuddling that swaddled little harbinger of sleeplessness, and in you, I see myself. Unsure, exhausted, euphorically delusional about how the hardest part was behind me, and about to embark on years of self-doubt and snuggles, insecurity and unsolicited opinions, and so, so much poop.
So let me give you Mama Time’s most loving reminder: You are someone’s mama now. Not just any someone. Your someone.
The most precious someone you’ll ever meet. And absolutely no snap-back, look-how-busy-I-can-be in fear of judgment, worries, diapers, or imagined inadequacies are bigger than a mama’s capacity for love.
So lean in, cheek to cheek with your babe, and know you have enough love and time for it all.