I went to visit a friend who just had her first child. Amidst all the cuddling and chatting she asked me to swear that motherhood got easier. While I assured her that she would one day get some real sleep, I could remember feeling the very same way.
I remember standing in the shower just four days after my daughter daughter was born, the phrase, “After three months it gets easier,” playing in my head. As the tears ran down my cheeks, I wondered how I would get through the next hour, never mind the next three months. It wasn’t just the sleep deprivation and the sore nipples, or the fact that my body felt like a pudgy and soft version of its former silhouette, but I simply didn’t feel like myself.
Those early days felt long and slow-moving. I would watch the minutes tick by every afternoon waiting for my husband to arrive home from work. There were so many tears, so much stress, and so little sleep. Most days, I felt like a colossal failure. If I had a good day with my daughter, the house looked like a mess. When I made a fantastic dinner for hubby and the house was clean, I felt as though I neglected my daughter.
Driving home, I breathed a sigh of relief thinking about how difficult and lonely those first weeks and months had been for me.
As I reminisced about how hard it was, I started to scroll through some of the pictures from those first weeks. What I found wasn’t surprising. My hair was no longer perfectly straightened, my eyes lacked my signature black liner, and my nails had a few tell-tale chips. However, there was something else that was surprising. Despite my exhausted appearance, each picture showed nothing but pure joy.
My daughter was one of those babies who didn’t nap during the day. At all. I used to read books about babies sleeping “too long” and I began to wonder whether or not I had lacked some understanding. I was often at my wits end, but glancing at these pictures showed such a different story. My baby,with her gummy smile had her drool-filled cheek pressed against mine as I smiled right alongside her. There wasn’t a single trace of that insecurity I had felt. I realized that while I had been focused on all of the negatives, I hadn’t remembered all the moments of pure joy captured in these photos. There I was in picture after picture with my messy hair and goofy smile, a picture of pure joy.
My advice? Don’t forget to stop and smell the roses, mama. It may it may be a long road, but try to look up and see those bright spots along the way. Trust me, they are there!