This weekend, we went to Colorado for a wedding for Ty’s college roommate/teammate.
It was a big long trip, which I’ll write about later this week hopefully.
But one of the greatest things about this weekend was seeing Ty’s old teammates and their girlfriends/fiancées/wives/families. These were the people that we went to college with and knew at the very beginning of our relationship (and whom Ty knew long before that).
The team has been present for each other’s weddings, births, breakups, graduations, and even deaths. They’re a team, but they’re also a family of sorts.
Ty was one of the members of the team to move the farthest away, and it’s meant that we see them less than we’d like.
But this weekend was so fun to see everyone and see how each of them has grown and started their own stories — all with the thread of volleyball woven throughout.
One of the newest members of the team’s family was a sweet little baby girl.
Aidan was calming her down with some music from Ty’s phone…so sweet!
It was so heartwarming to see a new family blossoming.
But you know what? It was also really rough to see the look in her sweet mama’s eyes that seemed to say, “I wish you people would stop telling me how wonderful this is and let me take a nap. Yes. Yes, she’s so amazing. Yes, she’s so adorable. But this is really hard — why isn’t anyone acknowledging that this is hard?!”
Oh, I remember that feeling!!
I so vividly remember sitting on the floor in my bedroom, not wanting to leave my house, because if one more person told me how great my life was and to enjoy every minute of it, I was certain that I would collapse in shame. Because I wasn’t really in a place to enjoy my (admittedly) wonderful life — I was a zombie!
I was running on fumes, and I was ready to implode. I couldn’t remember what day it was, when the last time was that I ate hot food, or if I had brushed my teeth that morning. It was an effort to make sure that I was wearing something different (even if it was different sweats) when Ty got home so I felt like I at least did something that day.
I was dreading outings into public because I was getting less and less good at wearing my cheerful smile.
Can we just all remember how HARD it was to be a new mom?
We were terrified of everything, weren’t we? Confused, unsure, and insecure people in charge of the life and health of a tiny, helpless little human being that spent the first few weeks simply taking and giving nothing but cute pictures in return. One day, we were just women and then suddenly, in one long and painful fell swoop, we became moms. It rocked our world in ways that we were only beginning to understand.
Every single person we encountered had advice, judgements, and opinions that they were all too happy to share.
No one told us that if we weren’t really enjoying this motherhood thing yet, we weren’t doing it wrong. It wasn’t common knowledge to us at the time that every other mother around us was also probably crying every day — no matter the age of their children.
And certainly, no one could have prepared us for the strange, all-consuming love that just grew from the pit of your stomach and spread deep into your soul the more you stared at your baby sleeping. You didn’t know how to handle the desire to do everything perfectly for this little life you’d been given.
We weren’t ready to balance that love and desire for perfection with feelings of despair and insecurity and unpreparedness. We were desperately clinging to the people that we were before we had become mothers, and it wasn’t matching up with the reality that we were mothers. Gone were the days of going to the bathroom in peace, walking out the door in five minutes, looking at strangers without fear of how their actions will affect your child, and carrying only a small purse.
This weekend, my heart was aching for my dear friend, remembering how hard it was to be a new mom. I wished so much that I could be closer and be more help to her.
I did my best to communicate that THIS IS ALL NORMAL — no matter what it is. If you’re overjoyed and adjusting well, it’s normal. If you’re struggling and feeling like you’re in way over your head, it’s normal. If you’re feeling torn between both worlds, it’s normal.
And that it’s okay if you sometimes just want this time to be over. As my mom used to tell me, “This too shall pass.” I’d be calling her crying, and she’d tell me, “I know, honey, it’s so hard. It’s okay. It’ll be over at some point. You’ll be on to something else before you know it.”
Now, I can look back and see that it was a special time, and I can appreciate it now, but in the moment, I wasn’t equipped to enjoy it to its fullest extent. And that was okay.
I absolutely, without a doubt, was made to be a mom. I dreamed about it my whole life.
I have most certainly found joy in every stage of motherhood. My kids bring so much light and love into my life. I am overwhelmed by how much I adore my children. It literally takes my breath away sometimes.
But it’s important that we acknowledge that the biggest blessings we’ve ever experienced were almost always some of the hardest things we’ve ever experienced. It’s important that we don’t forget that it was hard, and that we don’t forget it when we are encountering others who are in the thick of the hard.
When people saw how obsessed Aidan was and how sweet Ty was with her, the questions and advice started flying.
“Are you gonna have more?”
“You have to try for a girl!”
“Look how much Ty wants a girl!”
“The boys look like they want another baby!”
“You make such beautiful, well-behaved kids…why wouldn’t you want more?”
But those people have forgotten what it’s like to have a new baby. Just like when people say things to new moms.
“Aren’t you just loving motherhood?”
“She’s not sleeping through the night yet? That’s okay — more cuddle time!”
“Wasn’t being pregnant just magical? It’s such a miracle!”
“Enjoy this time. It goes by so quickly!”
You know what? They’re right. About all of those things. But in the moment, it’s not what all of us needed to hear. Be sensitive to the reality. Being a new mom isn’t all magic. It’s also painful nursing, lots of poop, and very little sleep.
And for the love of all that is restful, please help a new mom out when you can. Come sit with the baby so she can take a nap. Or take the baby for a walk so she can take a shower, or even get some things done. Babysit so she can go out with her husband on a date (she might not remember what that is…remind her).
To you new moms: what you do is special and important. You shape people. You are shaping a generation.
It is joy.
It is love.
It. Is. Hard.
And that’s okay.