Yesterday I sat down and began writing a new blog post: all the strategies I’ve used to help survive the newborn stage thus far. For those of you that don’t know me personally, we welcomed a second baby girl in November, our precious Margaret Laine.
Yes, round two has been a little easier. She sleeps, which helps. And this time around I was prepared for the breastfeeding struggles, and the fussy evenings, and the fog that having a newborn brings with it. As a result, these past few weeks have actually been quite pleasant.
So naturally, I wanted to share what I’ve learned.
I wrote down all my secrets to surviving those first few weeks with a newborn. Things like this: Don’t forget- the newborn phase is temporary. Taking time to get ready every morning is crucial. Never be too hard on yourself, you’re doing the best you can.
So on and so forth, and the wisdom just kept on flowing.
Then last night, a few hours after finishing up my post, I was just sitting around with my husband watching our kiddos. Suddenly and inexplicably, I hit a wall- a familiar wall. It was my old friend anxiety popping his head in my business to make sure my life wasn’t going too smoothly. Next came all the unwanted visitors in my mind, making themselves at home.
Thoughts like: is my toddler acting out because she’s not getting adequate attention? Are people gonna judge me when all my gifts come in dollar store gift bags this Christmas? Why does the weather have to be forecasting rain and snow at exactly the times my family will be traveling this weekend? Am I just hormonal or sleep deprived?
I fell asleep with a heavy heart. Heavy because I thought I had this mom-of-two gig on lock. Heavy because I had suddenly been made aware of all the things I can’t control.
I proceeded to yell at my husband when he couldn’t soothe our baby back to sleep at 4am. Yep, he was trying to help, and I yelled at him. And then I cried when my newborn wouldn’t fall back to sleep after my fourth attempt rocking her.
I woke up with the same messed up feelings I went to sleep with. While chugging my morning cup of coffee, I whipped out my cell phone to proofread my latest blogpost with those tips to surviving the newborn phase.
And I laughed.
Isn’t that motherhood in a nutshell? Just as soon as we think we have things figured out, we are quickly humbled by how few answers we really do have.
The truth is I have no idea how I’m surviving my first few weeks as a mother of two. If I had to give you a recipe for my survival, it would sound something like equal parts coffee, courage to leave the house, and the passage of time.
That’s all I’ve got.
But my recipe is not your recipe. Truth be told, there is no recipe that will work for every stage of life. So we just wing it - me, you, and every other mom who finds herself in a tough stage of motherhood (hello threenage years). And just as soon as we think we have it figured out, life will inevitably throw one of it’s curveballs again.
These challenging moments reduce us to our cores, and we won’t escape these daunting periods unchanged. I won’t. You won’t. But we all want the ability to find happiness despite the changes in our surroundings.
How do we find this happiness? I don’t know. For me, it’s good makeup, squeezing in my favorite podcasts, and trying my hardest to keep the little quirks inside me alive. Beyond that, my thinking is that if I stay humble during the good times and grateful during the tough times, maybe happiness will follow.
How will I stay grateful in times that can be so tiring and trying? I have no clue. But I do know that looking around me is a good start. (I don’t have to look far, there is a baby on my boob as I type this very word.) And if you are a new mom experiencing a rough start, looking around you is probably a good way to cultivate gratefulness too. There’s just something about witnessing a new life grow that can warm a heart.
As for staying humble in the happy times, from my experience, life will do that for me. Just like it did last night.
Should you take my advice on staying humble and grateful to find happiness as a new mom? Maybe, but maybe not. We all have different ways of making it through. My advice may not work for you.
But I do know one thing: until these child rearing days are behind me, I’m not going to pretend to have the answers.
So here’s to not having the answers to motherhood’s challenges. Here’s to giving myself the space to learn. Here’s to never giving unwanted, misplaced advice to fellow moms who truly just want to hear honesty. And here’s to this simple truth: motherhood is precious, motherhood is hard, and my recipe for navigating the space between the ups and the downs will never be the same as yours.
But I pray we all survive it whichever way we choose, with our happiness fully in tact.
This is our little Lainey, born on 11-2-17. She has my heart. Photo cred- Shannon Burns