Dear Exhausted Mama: I See You
Hey there mama, I saw you today, pushing your cart through the store, dark circles under your eyes and your hair pulled back into the kind of bun you only see on moms of little kids. As you made your way through the store I could feel the exhaustion radiating from your body. You were moving slowly and it was clear that each step you took came with great effort.
As you worked to cross items off your list, doubling back and going down the same aisles again and again, I could tell it wasn’t just your body that was tired- your mind, too, was simply exhausted. Your cart was filled with the kind of things tired people need – coffee and pre-made meals and dry shampoo and – right in the very middle of your goods was the source of your exhaustion, sleeping peacefully in her carrier. She’s was beautiful- and tiny- it was clear she was just a few weeks old.
I didn’t get a chance to talk to you before our paths diverged but, if you're reading this now there’re a few things I think you should know. The first thing you need to know is that being this tired is normal. Absolutely 100%, all-the-way normal and anyone who tells you different is a big mean liar. There are some people who might try to tell you to buck-up or to get over feeling so tired. They’ll wonder out loud how hard a baby really is and tell you that you look so, so tired in the kind of tone that lets you know it’s not their concern that’s motivating them to comment. The thing is, there is basically nothing more exhausting than having a newborn.
Most newborns sleep very, very little and even if you have one of those newborns that does miraculously sleep, you just gave birth and now you’re trying to learn how to take care of a whole new person. Your body is tired, your mind is tired, your whole essence is tired. This is okay and to be expected. Don’t feel bad for being so tired, or fool yourself into thinking you should be doing more; it’s okay to revel in your exhaustion and do only as much as you absolutely must.
The second thing you need to know is that this WILL pass. I know everyone is probably telling you how quickly this will pass and that you’ll soon look back and wish for your newborn again and that you should enjoy this time while you have it and, while that’s true, it’s not a particularly helpful thing to say. So I’m not telling you to appreciate it or enjoy it or love every second of it – I’m just telling you (promising you!) that this will pass. Motherhood will mean that you’re at least a little bit tired most days but, as your babe grows you won’t feel this sort of bone tiredness all-day every day like you do now.
The last thing you need to know is that it’s all worth it. The thing is, you’re exhausted right now. And probably sore and emotional and over-the-moon and kind of sad all at the same time. And as much as you love your babe, you also might kind of really, really miss the way things were before and wonder if you kind of made a mistake jumping into the whole parenting thing. As the exhaustion begins to lift though it’ll become clear that this part, this really hard part, is part of what it takes to make you into a mother. So, even if it’s not fun, it’s very, very worth it.
So mama, bone-tired, exhausted mama, I want you to know that what you’re doing right now is really important. And you are, literally, the center of your baby’s world. How about this evening you grab some comfortable pajamas, a big carton of ice cream, and your favorite book. Snuggle up on the couch and try to grab a few minutes of rest and, when your baby calls out for you because you know they will, do your best to remember the things I shared with you. You’ve got this mama!