I recently looked through a photo album labeled only with my daughter’s initials: the documentation of her birth and first weeks of life. It had been many months since I’d looked at them; each time I do I’m amazed by the difference in myself as I remember the moments that changed us both so deeply, so completely.
The days and nights swam together, then. As evening set each day of that first week, I remember gathering my strength and courage, not for the impending sleeplessness, but for the loneliness. Then came colic, and the helplessness of being unable to comfort her, and unable to maintain my own composure and confidence. I felt, at so many times, broken.
And she stretched my heart into something new and boundless.
The beginning was difficult for me. But few good things are easy, and that time formed me into the grateful, confident, blessed mom that I am today.
A year ago Mother’s Day, she was just over 8 months old. I still felt so tenderly new. This letter is from that time. It’s to you new mothers, but also to the families who have transformed over any number of years, over any number of late dinners, scraped knees, first I-Love-You’s.
You’ve worked hard, new mama.
You’ve overcome the challenges, the low times, the hardships you didn’t talk about with the friends cooing over your baby. You’ve melted into your role, perhaps with messier emotions than you expected (perhaps not) but with poise.
You’ve made the monumental decision of how to bring your baby into the world. You made the best choice possible for your child, your family, your birth, you. Perhaps it went as you envisioned; perhaps not. Perhaps you were surprised or shattered or overjoyed by the feat– you were transformed.
Perhaps you felt yourself become a mother the moment you took your little one into your arms. Perhaps you took your time.
Selflessly, you’ve fed your child at all hours. Maybe you’ve breastfed because you thought it best, easier, cheaper, or obvious. Maybe you’ve formula-fed because you thought it best, easier, more convenient, obvious. Maybe you’ve done exactly what you thought you wouldn’t, because when you made these important decisions and formed your opinions and plans, you had not yet met the person they are there to nurture.
You didn’t know that this tiny little being is the first of his or her kind, and they are not precisely like any other– or even quite whom you imagined. Yet they are perfect, and you are perfect for them.
You’ve fretted and tended and doted. You’ve spent night and day caring for and learning to love this person from the day you met.
No matter what you’ve done wrong so far, no matter what plans have fallen apart, no matter how uncertain, confused, or disappointed you’ve felt at any point, you have not failed in any way.
You’ve allowed your body to transition to motherhood with grace. You’ve only gained elegance and more of yourself. You wear your changes triumphantly. You are beautiful.
I know all of this, because this letter is to me, too.
Happy Mothers Day, Mama.