There have been lots of “letters to myself” floating around the internet by new moms. In light of a horrible night last night (probably up about 10 times – that’s not an exaggeration) I think I need to write one too.
A letter to future me – a future me who sleeps all night long…
You won’t even remember this time. This is a time when your life is under a microscope. Every minute feels like 100. One cry from a baby sounds like it will break windows, every cell in your body wants the cry to stop. That is your mama instinct in overdrive. You probably don’t remember what 4am looks like, rolling over from Jude, who was just awake at 3:30, to Thea, who whimpers now and opens her mouth looking for your breast. When you give it to her, she sighs and sucks for no more than a few beats, already back asleep. And you will be too, forgetting to do up your bra, awkwardly lying on your side with Jude nuzzled up against your back and Thea stroking your hand while she nurses.
This is the beautiful/horrible time of your life.
You are lonely, sharing 90% of your day with two infants. They don’t understand that spring is coming, or that the laundry needs to be folded or that you used to manage a team of 12 employees. They don’t notice the spit up on your pants, or the snot they left on your shoulder. They don’t care that they just pooped up their own back.
They want to be on you all the time. They lie on the floor begrudgingly. And you hate this/love this. Because they are pure love. All they want is pure love. Pure love is not something you are used to giving constantly. It is tiring. It is beautiful/horrible, because it truly is your heart on the outside of your body.
You are not tired. Tired is not the word. You move in applesauce, laboriously going from task to task. You plan your moves. If you are going on a walk, you feed and change both babies; You secure both babies – one in the pack n’ play, one in the excersaucer, and go get the stroller from the car. You half dress the babies so that they don’t over-heat, and move them closer to the front door; then you dress yourself, and finish dressing them. They will start crying at this point. Then, leaving the door open, you bring one baby to the stroller, then return for the other. And pray you haven’t forgotten anything. And pray they fall asleep. And pray they are not too cold.
They cuddle under their blankets in the stroller, sleepy eyes watching the strange world around them. This is chaos/peace.
You wonder why you are doing this. You wonder when it will be over. You consider putting them in cribs at night and closing a door on them, turning up the volume on the t.v. and counting the minutes until you should go in and pat their backs. You consider formula and day care, getting back to your old life. Other mothers talk about how difficult all those things are, but sometimes it seems like closing the door on the crying would be the easy thing to do. It must be easier than what you’re living through! Picking them up for the millionth time and rocking them for a million minutes seems like the hardest thing on earth. You feel like running a marathon would be easier than cluster-feeding for the next 2 hours. Sometimes your eyes tear over and you realize you’ve been holding your breath for who knows how long.
So, dear me, tell me it was worth it. Tell me I have two beautiful children who know how to love and be loved. Who are free to express themselves and happy in their skin. Tell me they are kind and smart and independent. Tell me they sleep in past 5am!
Strangely, when I wonder why I am raising my babies the way I am, the answer is: this is how 8-year-old me would do it.
Yes, 8-year-old me is having a ball. Dressing the babies, giving them baths, feeding them in their matching high-chairs, taking them on walks to the park, even bouncing and shushing them while they cry. 8-year-old me is in heaven.
I am living in strange zenith-world, where who I have been, who I am, and who I will be clamber around in my head. I know it will end, but I’m not sure which version of myself will make it out.
It is horrible.
It is beautiful.
It seems never-ending, yet throughout it all I know that one day it will be over. And I’ll miss it. Right?
***Felt I should post-script, I completely realize that some mamas need to formula feed/put their babies into day care etc. No judgement, I realize I’m very lucky that I don’t need to do those things yet, and I know that every mama needs to do what’s right for their family.