Notes to My Self of Ten Years Ago, When I Was a New, New Mom
You are doing okay. You are doing great.
You are not actually losing your mind. Okay, you are, but you will get it back. For the most part.
He will sleep, I promise. He will one day be an amazing sleeper. (His yet-to-be-born sister is another story. Worry about that later.)
It doesn’t matter if he watches a second episode. Really. Close your eyes for a little while. You’ll both be better for it.
When you first begin to wonder if you are depressed? You are. Ask for help, accept it, as much as you can. You will be okay.
Staying home will be good for you both. Returning to work, when you do, will be good for you both.
Your first day back, you will go to a conference and forget everyone’s name. It doesn’t matter.
Those women in your moms’ group will still be in your life ten years from now.
The remarkable young women you hire to care for him will love him like no one else. You’ll get to watch them grow up, too, and go on to have families of their own.
When you briefly meet a single mom in the coffee shop who tells you, with a teary smile and newborn strapped to her chest, that she’s trying to do it all on her own, you will write down the moms’ group info for her. Ask for her phone number. You will worry and wonder about her, years from now.
You will find moments to relish, like when he falls asleep in the car and you have nothing to do, in these low-tech days, but sit and wait. And rest. And breathe. You will relive these moments on a far-off, bittersweet evening when he falls asleep in the car after a long day and you have to ask his dad to carry him because he’s grown so heavy you simply can’t any longer.
That favorite pacifier you can’t find when he really needs it? You will come across it a long time from now, when you reach into the pocket of your heavy brown sweater. He will have long forgotten it by then—but you will savor the slight weight of it in your hand for an extra moment before you tuck it in a drawer.
He will fall out of love with fire trucks but continue to love dogs. One day—not yet—your little family will be ready to get a dog of your own that he will love and you will remember these days, how he scans the park for dogs and squeals softly and pants at them.
Your instinct to surround him with the kids who make him laugh and delight in himself—that is a good one. The time will come when you can no longer choose his playmates; you’ll want him to look to the friends who are kind and funny.
Watching him become a sibling will make you see and understand and love your own siblings in a new way. Watching him torture his sister, well… He will love her and he will be cruel to her, except when they are banding together against you. But she is the one who will make him laugh most even though he will never admit it.
The thing that terrifies you most, the fear that you could lose him, will almost come to pass years from now. It will come close. But after the surgery, the hours in the ICU when you watch him sleep, when he gets better, when he comes home, you will be a better parent than you have ever been because you will really know that you cannot control these things. You will become a freer parent. A freer person.
In the future, there will be nights when you will sneak a kiss on a sweaty, sleeping forehead because he won’t otherwise allow it and you will watch him sleep (remember—he will sleep) and you will know: I did okay.
Photo credit: Megan Dempsey