A Plea to Already-Moms Everywhere
***At 32 weeks pregnant, I wrote out this blog post one morning. Exhausted and frustrated, the tears ran from my eyes as I furiously left my heart in the words I typed. Spurred into action by yet another ridiculous comment from a stranger at the store about how awful parenthood is… and tired of hearing all the negativity of parenthood from strangers in general, I wrote down words that I fully still believe now, today – 2.5 months post-partum with a wonderful baby boy in my arms. But I was afraid to click that publish button. 1. I had a lot of close friends and family who spoke into the beauty of parenthood during my whole pregnancy, I didn’t want that to be overshadowed and 2. That I didn’t adequately know the full reality of being a parent and I was somehow blind. (I wasn’t). Well, here I am on the other end of this post, fully resting in my “already-mom” state and I have to say something. I’m glad I didn’t go off the words of the random lady in the shoe store (“oh honey, I’m so sorry, your feet are gonna stay that big”) for my sole excitement and expectations for motherhood. Geez..
I posted a mini version of this blog post on Instagram and found women feeling just like me, looking for support. So here I am today, clicking that button. All I know is this, parenthood is the best. It’s hard and beautiful and exhausting and rewarding and messy and I really do wear yoga pants everyday.. but it’s a blessing like I never imagined. And I pray that I never, for one minute, hinder someone from the joy they have the privilege of experiencing during pregnancy or that I insight fear or worry into someones mind about being a parent in the future. Because even when things are hard – Edison is so worth it.***
Shredded Wheat and Venting
As I sit here on this early morning after going through my daily routine of grunting out of bed, going to the bathroom for the 5th time in 12 hours and wishing I could give myself a caffeine injection before beginning this day, I’m tired and need to vent about something on my heart.
I’m eating my Shredded Wheat (those with the filling inside – amazing) and feeling too tired to even move. I didn’t sleep at all last night (like 30 minutes tops), since at 32 weeks I’m feeling more like a small manatee than a bouncing beautiful pregnant woman. I’m uncomfortable and with Edison lying low in my belly, it’s a lot of round-the-clock pressure that isn’t really fun. But whoa, I am so excited for this little life inside of me. I’m so pumped for the future that is before us.
But during the night last night, I had a lot of time to think.
And worry. And think. And smile at the thought of meeting Edison soon. And feel him as he kicked. And imagine what he’s going to look like. And worry. And cry at the beauty of life. And thank God for giving us this gift. And praise Him. And worry a little more.
I recently read a blog post sent to me by my SIL Ariel – A letter to my Pre-Mom self.
I love this so much. So so much.
And I thought of this post and then I thought of my future-mom self and I shuttered at the thought. I prayed that I wouldn’t become a scary judgmental version of myself. That I could have the heart of the woman in that article.
Eric and I were driving around the other day and talking about becoming parents. I asked him what he was feeling nervous about, since there’s always something you feel nervous about when going to have a child.. and we both agreed that just when we start to feel like maybe we’ll be okay, someone tears it down. And then he said this “what if we were considering abortion?” And I got so angry at the thought. He’s right – what if?
It’s like when we were engaged. So many people told us examples of how their husbands/wives were horrible after they got married or spoke ill of their own marriage to us, as if somehow that would make us feel better. Good, Christian couples who we knew would passive aggressively gouge at deep rooted issues in front of one another in public settings, concealing the issue with laughter, asking us to laugh along. (Oh, trust me, give it 3 months into the marriage and the (insert any word here) will stop.) Dooming us from the start. Ultimately, planting seeds of doubt that we couldn’t make it. And it was exhausting, the constant barrage of negativity from the world – Christians and non-Christians alike. So now, in my life, I try to speak to new couples about the beauty of marriage. That it’s hard, but it’s stinking awesome and so, so worth it.
I’m no fool (okay, yeah I am), nor am I a naive little girl. I am all for transparency in life, in who we are as flawed humans. I think we connect deeply when we’re real with one another, it’s how God wired us. But lately.. it’s been hard to be a pregnant woman in a sea of “already moms.” Aside from family and few close friends, already moms in my life haven’t been full of positive interactions lately. It’s like being pregnant is being engaged all over again.
I know that being a parent is one of the most beautiful and difficult things to do. I understand it’s more sacrifice than I’ve ever experienced. That it will be a lot of testing of patience, worry that I’m not doing things right, stressing about decisions (seriously, the sheer amount of nipple choices is unreal) and then finding those beautiful moments that make it all worthwhile.
But I see you… you’re smirking at me. Come on, be real, all you already-moms out there. I can practically feel your judgement. Even me, 4 months from now in my already-mom state, you’re smirking at those words above on the screen and thinking:
“She only thinks she knows..”
And you’re right. There’s no way I can possibly know the full weight of parenthood, before lugging a screaming baby out of a restaurant with all eyes on me. There’s no possible way that I could know the true blessing of this baby boy and how he’ll change my life in every way imaginable.
But I do know this one thing: it’s all I think about. Becoming one of you is what consumes my days.
Do you remember?
Do you remember being me right now? Exhausted and overwhelmed and worried that you wouldn’t be good enough? Simultaneously praying for the due date to arrive to meet your baby but wishing it would be farther away so he could just stay inside of you? So he could stay safe?
Do you remember looking at “already moms” and wondering “but how do they know all this stuff?” (like seriously, how do you know what to even put in a diaper bag?)
Do you remember the joy you felt when you felt those feet kicking (read: smashing) your rib cage every hour of the day? Watching your stomach look like it was from some sort of Sci-Fi movie as he rolled and jumped and hiccuped and kicked?
I pray you can stop and remember. I pray you can understand me right now. That when I say I need you to be an advocate for new moms like me, you’ll understand my heart, where I’m coming from.
You see, we’re living in this day and age where our culture takes the gift of new life very lightly. And although I am a Christian woman, that doesn’t mean you know my heart. I need you to think about the possibilities of what I could be going through, before opening your mouth. What if I was struggling with the thought of abortion? Of adoption? What if I’m one of the 13% of women who develop depression during pregnancy? What if the weight of the responsibility of new life is proving too much for me to handle? What if I need counseling, but won’t seek it out for fear of judgement?
What if your comments to me could affect my actions?
I look to you to be a voice of assurance. I look to you, carrying that screaming baby around like some sort of baby wizard, as you corral 3 other kids into the play area with a spit-up stained blouse and two different colored flip flops on (because I get it.. who really has time to match anyway) and I smile at your life. I smile at the chaos of your night at the restaurant, when you break down in tears because you just wanted one special night – and I feel such love toward you. The respect I feel for you runs so deep in my heart. I hope to be the mom you are to your kids.
And I know that doesn’t mean much to you in that moment. But it means the world to me. Because I immediately look to you for guidance on this whole parenting thing. I’m observing you. I’m watching how you swaddle (are those knees up and out?), if you use a pacifier, if you let your toddler play with an iPad or not. Since to me, you’re the best book I’ve got. You’re a real, live pro. You’ve got this whole thing under control (for the most part).
Please hear me: I don’t expect you to lie to me. I don’t expect you to be fake. I don’t desire pretense.
I’m not talking about a close friend making a joke with me. Or a good-natured laugh about a weird thing your kid did that day – when it made you mad, but your heart is seen.
What I’m talking about is: strangers, for the love of everything good, don’t look at my belly and immediately say “get ready for no sleep!” or tell me how “it’s fun hating your husband!” I’m addressing you, people I hardly know: when you see me in the grocery store, don’t run over to me and want to vent about your kid. Don’t use that moment to feel like you have to “teach” me about the struggles I’m going to face. Don’t think that it’s your sole duty to make me understand how hard parenthood is as I pick out what kind of pasta sauce to buy for dinner. I’m going to learn the difficulties sooner rather than later. Especially if it’s like you say and “I’ll get it one day.”
Instead, if you are struggling and need to talk with me can you come to me in a gentle way? Can you think about how what you have to say might make me feel? Can you speak under the headline “this is me, not you.”
Instead, will you come to me and help me make a decision about what wipes to use? Give me a hug and sure, why not make a comment about how big I am.. because let’s face it – I feel like I’m secretly gonna have twins. Bond with me, share this joy with me.
Tell me about moments like this in your day:
or little moments like this
I know you are tired, I know you are stressed and stretched so thin. I will keep trying to understand you. I have grace for you.
So just like you need me to tell you about how much I admire you and respect your hard work, can you understand me when I say that what I need is you to be a voice of guidance and help to me? As much as you need me to be the pre-mom pregnant woman who can say “You need to be more gentle on yourself, you are amazing, you’re my hero.” I need you to be the future-mom who is walking in motherhood daily and can say “oh, but it’s so worth it – trust me, I’m a pro remember?”
To look at me with kind and mascara-less eyes and say “none of us know what we’re doing, but you’ll be okay.”
To affirm me at my 32 weeks of pregnancy, tired and overwhelmed at the thought of the future and being a good mom that “this baby will give you a new life, and you’ll struggle. But you’d never take it back.”
Because right now, I’m sitting here stressing about traveling while being this pregnant and keeping my swelling down and if breastfeeding will be a battle and if he’ll be a good sleeper and if he’ll be healthy and that he still doesn’t have a car-seat and my to-do list is a mile long.. but I just need to get out of these pajamas, finish this bowl of soggy Shredded Wheats and go to work.
And I’m stressed. I’m worried. I think a lot.
I know you do too.
Reassess Your Heart
Don’t tell me your kids are a burden.Women all over this world desire children and can’t have them. Don’t make me afraid of the path in front of me. God placed me on this path. Don’t make me question this joy. I’ve wanted it for so long. Don’t try and steal away some of this excitement. Don’t make me question God’s gift of life inside my body. Encourage me to treasure it.
And if that is how you truly feel, maybe you should take a moment and re-evaluate your heart. Get back to your roots, the basics.
I need you to look back a little, to when you were me. And when you see me around town, speak the blessings of bringing a child into this world. Remember the excitement you felt then and:
- Tell me about the lessons you learn from being the sole needs provider for a child – even if it’s the most exhausting work.
- Or the way you’ve learned what true love is, simply by being a parent.
- Or what you favorite thing to do with them is – even if that is putting them to sleep.
- Tell me about how you love to watch them sleep. (even if it’s not all that much)
- And how you’ve not had a chance to get your hair cut, but oh well.
Be an Advocate
In short, I’m not afraid to hear about the mess. I want to help you too. I want to laugh with you about wearing yoga pants everyday as if they are the new fashion. I want to take your baby into my lap so you can eat your lunch without being attacked like a dairy cow. But I beg of you, tell me about the beauty in the mess too.
And be a champion for pre-moms like me. Be a champion for those children in the balance and speak blessings and options to new mothers. Think about the issues I could be wrestling with inside and tell me about how you may have struggled during your pregnancy, identify with me that way. Because frankly, you never know what lies beneath the surface.
Be an advocate for me, your former self.
Be an advocate for women just like you.
Be a champion for life.
Be a blessing.
Be a voice of reassurance in my life. Allow God to use you.
I’ll never take it for granted.