Dear New Mom,
One day you’re not gonna feel blessed, it’s gonna be harder to think God is Good, and coffee and messy buns won’t be the easy answer to your prayers. Motherhood will stop getting you high and Target runs won’t be a salve for your wounds.
I know it seems unfathomable that Starbucks and the Dollar Spot won’t be enough to soothe your weary soul, but you’ll get there. You’ll graduate.
A few years ago before I was a mother myself, my friend was there. Our phone calls were almost intolerable, the background noise consisted of a lot of crying and screaming, and I wondered how she dealt with the constant static that narrated her life. It wasn’t the well rounded musical score that would elicit a range of emotion, you know, the kind that This Is Us employs to get you from joy to despair and back again with just a few notes. It was all misery as far as I could hear. But I could still hang up the phone.
She told me she was looking forward to the day when I had 3 kids and I would know her torment from the inside of my own four walls. That I’d walk those rooms of motherhood and then I’d understand.
I remember being startled. I thought it was an odd thing that she wished I would be unhappy. I thought she shouldn’t have had so many kids. I thought other mothers must be better at this than her. I thought a lot of things.
Well today I graduated too.
I was lying on the floor of my hallway as my toddler entered minute thirty of screaming for no apparent reason. Just breathing is hard when you’re pregnant, so parenting at times certainly feels impossible. And for a lot longer than anyone on social media might like to admit, I sat there regretting what I had gotten myself into.
With my almost halfway-to-the-finish-line belly I lay there and I wondered why I thought any of this was a good idea. I was suffering and not for one second did I feel like this was “so worth it.” (I’ve made it a point not to be friends with those types of moms, I need someone who will pull up a seat and wallow in the trenches. I’m not looking for rational hope filled perspective.)
I mourned the uncertainty of my future, because when you bring babies into this world you cloud your vision. You’re not sure what you are or what will be left for you when this phase passes. You put things on hold and sometimes they’re not there to go back to. Friends, careers, goals, ambition are as subject to atrophy as your body. You expect your sacrifices to be worth it. And in very bleak moments you have a hard time finding that certainty that assured you it would be.
I think back on my best friend, who I tried to cage in an ideal of how I thought a mother should think and feel. I faulted her for expressing unhappiness that I didn’t think was allowed, that it disqualified her in some way from being one of the “good” ones.
Eventually I got up. Eventually my toddler stopped crying. And I realized that motherhood is a richer experience than what Instagram would lead us to believe. It accounts for more than bad clichés about drinking wine and it lets you be more complex than leggings and memes. It forgives you for needing more than it, before you can yourself.
Scarlett Longstreet is a stay at home-ish mom, bartender, and wife. She lives in a suburb of Detroit with her husband and daughter. You can follow her on Instagram.