Thursday, October 23, 2014

A letter to myself as a new mom (sleep deprived, implied)

Hey, me,

Wow, those are some cat pants.

If my Back to the Future–based calculations are right, you're about to call our mom and cry a lot. Before you ask her, no, there is no commune for new moms where the laundry gets done for you and people bring you snacks while you feed babies and change diapers. There should be, but there isn’t.

Since we're talking, one side of your nursing bra is unhooked. This is a theme you'll notice over the next 12 months.

Plus, yes, sleep-deprived moms should have chauffeurs. When you say this to yourself in a few weeks as you back out of the driveway on the way to the pediatrician while the baby coos in her carseat on roof of the vehicle (don't worry, it all works out fine), you'll become the poster child for this sentiment.

And when you see the duct tape in the garage, go ahead and slip it into the closet in the nursery. You may not realize it, but it's going to come in handy many, many times over your parenting years.

But that’s the stuff and nonsense of new motherhood. I didn’t fire up this time-travelling missive for that. I have a very important message from the future.

You’re not alone. You think you're alone because no one comes to visit and leave casseroles anymore.  

But I’m talking about ideological, emotional, and philosophical aloneness.  

You aren't the only one who:

·         has bloody nipples,
·         wants to make cloth diapers work (but might not),
·         swears at the baby under her breath sometimes,
·         finds baby poop on her finger an hour after the last diaper change,
·         feels judged by other moms—especially her mother-in-law,
·         forgets to put baby wipes in the diaper bag,
·         has spit-up in her cleavage,
·         cries a lot in the kitchen,
·         saved the umbilical stump,
·         hates her stroller,
·         and values sleep above all else.

I know you want to do things “right,” right from the start. But it won't take long for you to realize that “right” is subjective. Wipes warmers, video baby monitors, and daily showers are a matter of preference. So are breast versus bottle, co-sleeping, and pacifiers. 

So, find your tribe. Seek like minds, a band of parents who rally around the same beliefs and nap schedules. Do consider what other tribes believe; they are no less wise than yours. Sometimes you might even join them for a bit. But don’t live and die by them. They aren't your tribe. They aren't the ones who will buoy you when you need it.

Your Tribe. That’s all you really need to get along.

That and duct tape. Believe me you'll need some duct tape. 

*This post originally appeared in a slightly different version on ParentsConnect.