I have finally come to terms with the fact that I am past the baby phase. My youngest will start kindergarten next year, and I don’t change diapers or rock snuggly babies in footie pjs anymore. Those were great times. I’ve had so many sweet middle of the night moments with my kids, back when they made their little noises in my ear while I soothed them back to sleep. Those are the times that cause grandmothers to stop young mothers in the store, warning them that they should enjoy every moment because it passes too quickly. But, there’s another thing about those middle of the night moments: they are also really, really hard.
For every precious gurgling smile, there are fifteen different weird things to panic about. For every picture perfect moment there are forty different messes. For every feeling of fulfillment in your role as a mother, there are ten different ways that you wonder if your life will ever recover from the appearance of this little game changer. So, I want to send some encouragement out to you mamas who are in the middle of the glorious and tough and amazing baby years.
First, I want you to know how common it is to feel completely inadequate to do the job of motherhood–especially in those first weeks and months. I remember thinking that the hospital was crazy for letting me take my firstborn home. I had never even changed a diaper before she was born! My life felt like a constant cycle of making decisions for her and then questioning those decisions. She didn’t stop crying like I expected her to. Nursing hurt. She had cradle cap and diaper rash and acid reflux, and even when I called the doctor, beside myself, no one seemed to think that any of this was a big deal. I felt sure that I had no idea what I was doing. But, lo and behold if she didn’t end up thriving in my care, despite my terrible lack of knowledge and my constant wondering if I was messing this whole motherhood thing up.
Secondly, I want to encourage you. Things get better. They get better very quickly. You gain confidence. Your baby gets responsive as she gets older. She turns her head at the sound of your voice. She gives you a smile. She laughs out loud. You start getting something back from her instead of just the constant demands. Things get more and more fun the older they get. It’s hard to keep things in perspective when you have a little bitty one–it feels like they’ll be tiny and helpless forever, and sometimes you start thinking that you have seriously ruined your life with this little person. Those feelings will fade. Things get so much easier in just a short time.
Last, I want you to consider how you are really feeling. Not just how you are willing to tell others that you’re feeling. If you feel a real sense of despair, please be honest with those you love and tell them the truth. Post-partum depression is so common and so real, and it tells you all kinds of lies about yourself and your situation. If you are having scary thoughts or just don’t want to get out of bed in the morning, tell someone. Ask for help.
Those grandmothers in the grocery store are right about one thing: time does go by quickly. In no time at all your baby will be easier to deal with, more independent, and less demanding. Just wait a few years and you’ll have a buddy that helps you with your grocery shopping and is a good movie date. As a mama who is well past the baby phase, I can tell you that you have so, so much to look forward to. Hang in there, and remember that if you feel weak and humbled, you are in the perfect position to let God be your strength. When it seems impossible to do another day with way too little sleep and way too much responsibility, just lean on the God who does the impossible.