you’ll get your groove back, momma
It’s still one of my most raw memories of motherhood. I had a rough start after having my first child, Colin. During pregnancy, I thought I had it all figured out. I’d been a babysitter my entire life (the oldest sibling). I’d nannied newborns. Heck if I’d nannied a family of five, one baby would be a piece of cake!
And then I had a baby of my own. It was so much harder than I expected. In those early weeks, the hormones turned me into a weepy mess. There were multiple moments when I looked at Colin and cried, thinking ‘why is this so hard for me?‘ I just felt like I couldn’t get it together.
At that point in our lives, we were in transition. Living temporarily in Indiana while John finished his MBA. I was on maternity leave from my full time corporate job and we were trying to determine our next step. John had just received a job offer in Seattle and was invited to look at the office/take a tour of the city to determine if we were interested in relocating. We asked for an extension because Colin was BRAND NEW. They gave us one more month. So, with Colin just 6 weeks old, we boarded the plane and flew across the country.
My memories of those days are scattered. I remember worrying so much about flying with a newborn. I remember worrying so much about keeping his tiny too-young-to-be-vaccinated body safe from germs. I remember worrying about how I’d handle walking through the city, still struggling with physical recovery from birth. So. much. worrying.
But then, one morning mid-trip, something finally clicked. John had to attend a couple meetings so he left me & Colin in the hotel. I showered. Dried my hair [!!!!]. Put on my raincoat. Bundled Colin up in his cute little snuggly bear suit. I remember looking in the mirror and feeling a sense of accomplishment. I looked like I knew what I was doing. I looked (and felt) like I had it together. [as luck would have it, I happened to snap a selfie…]
With my newfound confidence, I walked across the street to the Starbucks. I remember smiling at people in line. Feeling electric, a fraction of my old self shining through. I ordered a chai latte. And as I was waiting, some COMPLETE STRANGER, decided to offer me a piece of unsolicited advice: ‘Excuse me, miss… you should check and make sure your child has enough room to breathe in the carrier.‘
I looked down [Colin was fine] and said ‘oh ok, thank you’ while inside my confidence crumbled into pieces. I know she meant well. But, here I was… feeling for the first time in weeks like I finally had it together and her [completely unsolicited] advice made me feel like it was obvious to everyone in that Starbucks that I didn’t know what I was doing. I was devastated.
Feeling deflated, I decided to walk back to the hotel instead of walking around with Colin in the carrier any longer. And, as I was opening the door to the hotel room, juggling my delicious chai latte, my hand slipped and the hot drink fell. It clipped the carrier and spilled onto Colin’s face. He woke up, screaming, and I melted into tears. I dried him off and he immediately fell back asleep… his face a little pink from the spill, but thankfully mostly unscathed.
I, however, was a wreck. I had just spilled A HOT CUP OF TEA onto my six week old son’s face. I still (3 years in) have never felt like a worse mother than I did in that moment… which cruelly came just minutes after I felt I finally was getting the hang of things.
That woman. That stranger with her unsolicited advice. Set into motion a chain of events she never intended. Though she couldn’t possibly have known how fragile I was in that moment, her ‘harmless’ advice crushed me.
I wish I could step back in time and give that frazzled momma a hug… tell her ‘you’re doing a great job. you’re going to get your groove back so soon‘ and SMACK that stranger upside the head and scream ‘DO YOU HONESTLY BELIEVE I AM NOT WORRIED ABOUT MY CHILD’S BREATHING EVERY SINGLE MOMENT OF THE DAY?’
So, new momma. I want you to know that YOU WILL GET YOUR GROOVE BACK. Even though everyone’s experience is unique. Even though there’s no magical number of days or milestone where it “always” clicks. The time will come for you. It really, truly will. I wish someone had told me this sooner.
Coming tomorrow: a tip I wish I’d received earlier for helping newborns sleep!