Yes, this is personal. No, it’s not just about me.
1. My Smile isn’t everything
Yes, some days, things are wonderful. I’m tired, but I’m happy… so very happy, and my heart is full. Those are the days that you see me, and I go to church, I take a walk, I stop by and say, ‘hello’. But those days are not all days. Because some days… I can’t. I can’t smile, I can’t be thankful, I can’t appreciate, and I can’t be.
2. It’s not just about my baby
After the first month, people stopped asking about me, and just asked about my baby. “How is she..? Sleeping better? Colic gone? No more fussiness?” It felt like weeks before someone looked me in the eye, and asked, “How are YOU?” It felt good.
3. Logic has no rule
You can say whatever you want, and try to reason with me all that you want… but it doesn’t matter. This isn’t about logic, or what “makes sense” – it’s about emotions, and feelings, and fears. In my head, I KNOW I don’t have to breastfeed, I KNOW that I’m doing the best that I can, and I KNOW that eventually, the crying will end… but that doesn’t change the way I feel, or the struggles I face.
4. Yes, all babies cry
I know this. I’m okay with this. But crying is different from screaming. Especially when it doesn’t stop. When she looks in pain. When you have no idea why, and you have no idea what you’re doing. It’s scary, and you just want to do whatever it takes to make her happy, even at your own expense.
5. My baby is not your baby
Please don’t give me that placid smile – the one that all experienced mothers and fathers have, where they look at me and then at each other with the face of, “Oh, we know”. Maybe you do (truly!)… but maybe you don’t. Our experiences could be very, very different, and you may have never faced what I have inside. Because something tells me that if you understood, you wouldn’t look at me that way.
6. Guilt is my worst enemy
Guilt that I can’t make her stop crying. Guilt that I’m not accepting offers of help. Guilt that I want to be able to feed her and hold her myself. Guilt that I’m not a good mother. Guilt that there are so many women who would give anything to be where I am. No matter what, I can’t seem to escape the guilt.
7. Please don’t get offended
Your advice, your support, your offers to help… all are so greatly appreciated. They mean so much to me, and each time it’s given, I hear the words, “I love you.” But I may not take your help, use your advice, or reply to your texts of encouragement, and for that I am sorry. But please, do not get offended – knowing you care does more than you realize.
8. Support me, don’t persuade me
If I choose to breast feed, formula feed, put my infant on a schedule, stay at home… feel free to show your support as I come across road bumps and struggles, and encourage me on the journey I have chosen to take. But please don’t try and change my mind – please don’t make me second guess my choices, or my desires.
9. There is an in-between
It doesn’t have to be one extreme or the other. You don’t need to see me or hear from me everyday, texting constantly, or calling up on me. But please don’t feel that I need “space”, and not want to “bother” me. An occasional text, a smile from across the room, a hug when we meet all mean SO much, and speak volumes. Too much more, and I am overwhelmed. Nothing, and I feel alone.
10. I’m lonely… but I’m also lost
The most heart-felt but scariest words I ever heard were, “Well you are the mother, and mother knows best.” Because I’m new, she’s new, and I have no idea. My heart tells me I’m confused, and I just want to do my best, but sometimes I don’t know what that is.
11. Pray for me
Do it. Right then and there. Don’t say it unless you mean it, or it becomes a common phrase. And do it with all the intensity and love you can muster. Because, you want to know something? Right now, my prayers are cries. Right now, I’m struggling to hear His voice of comfort, much less be able to talk to Him myself. And that hurts more than anything.
12. Hear me out
Sometimes, I don’t want to talk about it. But sometimes, I just need to vent – about what I’ve tried, what I will try, and how nothing seems to work. About how I feel, and what I’m afraid of, and how I sometimes wish things were different. And then… I like to talk about all the things I love in my life, and the things that I’m grateful for; the pieces of this difficult journey that are teaching me so much, and helping me grow. I don’t need fix-it answers, I just want you to listen, and to hear what’s on my heart.
13. Remind me, I am not alone.
Sometimes I need to hear this… again, and again, and again. You are not alone. You are not alone.
YOU are not alone.
Please, don’t ever forget that. <3