One of the things I’ve loved most about this first year of being a mother is other moms.
I love moms of all ages and shapes and sizes, I love moms who are now grandmoms, I love working moms and stay-at-home moms, and breastfeeding moms and formula moms and homeschool moms and moms at their wits’ end and moms full of inspiration and moms bobbing somewhere in between.
I love the moms who were my friends before I myself became a mom. These are the friends who taught me about motherhood before I was even pregnant. These are the moms who taught me literally how to breastfeed and how to swaddle and how best to soothe a baby to sleep. I am endlessly grateful for them because they crossed over into this wild world first, and held out their hands to help me step into motherhood myself. These are the mama friends who knew how hard it was before I became a mom, and instead of laughing at my naiveté, tried to teach me, just to try and keep me from making the same mistakes they did. Thank you, mama friends, for being so gentle and patient with me. Thank you for reassuring me for the 15th time that all was well and I was doing just fine. Thank you for letting me complain to you when I was overwhelmed, thank you for giving me advice, thank you for urging me to keep going when I doubted myself.
But I also have an ever-growing soft spot for new moms like myself. I love the moms who are in the trenches like I am, learning this all for the first time. The women, who like me, watched other women become mothers and thought maybe we understood, but in reality had no clue what it would actually be like to live it. I love the new moms who are just trying their best, and constantly feel like they are on the verge of failing. I love the new moms who are coming to grips with the fact that this is forever and always, now – this level of hyperawareness, this constant worrying, this constant responsibility.
I love all kinds of moms and how we support one another. There are women who I was close with, many years ago, and there are women I barely knew, had a class in college with, went to high school with. There are internet friends who I’ve been friendly with for years but might have drifted from as time passed. Women, that prior to having a baby, I would have thought of with pleasant if dim memories, a warmth without much heat behind it.
Suddenly, these moms became so much more. Suddenly, their little comments, their reassurances, their messages – became little life lines for me. There was this bond, all of the sudden, that seemed to come out of nowhere – and yet, it was born of understanding. Young women who gave birth within a year or two of me – they experienced what I experienced, in enough proximity of time that it is so fresh, so common, so mutual between us. The newness and the shock and the love and the frustration are so prominent, so current – for them, and for me.
I love moms who know what it feels like to be up at three thirty, nursing or giving a bottle, trying to figure out if it’s worth asking their husband to put the baby back to sleep, or if they’re better off doing it themselves. They’ll feel extra tired the next day but not have to deal with a cranky husband and a cranky baby. I love the moms who have girls’ night interrupted by a waking baby, the moms who empathize how frustrating it is to try to get the baby that sleeps through at least until midnight every other night back to sleep. They’ve been there, sitting in darkness and silence in the nursery, just wishing your darling baby would fall asleep so you could go back to a glass of wine and RuPaul’s Drag Race on the couch with your girlfriends, on the one night you all managed to be free so you could hang out together in person and not just over texts.
I love the moms who, every night, after actually getting the baby down to sleep immediately launch into washing bottles and putting away toys; the moms who swore they’d never leave a wet or dirty diaper laying out because gross – and now end up finding wet diapers on the floor next to the couch and wonder, how long has that been there? I love the mothers who laugh in the face of laundry and say bring it on, I’ll fold you, sucker! Better yet – the moms who unashamedly let their clean OR dirty laundry marinate on the arm chair and shrug their shoulders and say, eh, that’s motherhood and refuse to be shamed for it.
I love moms who visit the drive-thru of the local Dunkin Donuts for coffee so often that the drive-thru attendant knows their order; the moms who grocery shop in see-through black leggings and their husbands’ t-shirts, a bright headband on to cover their greasy, unwashed hair; unabashedly throwing Cheetos and a random $6 T-shirt they need just because it makes them feel better to have something new, and clean, and fresh. I love the moms throwing a frozen pizza in the oven or swinging through the drive-thru, the moms struggling through meal prep on Sunday evening, the moms who tried to make a birthday cake and ended up making three before it felt perfect enough for their child’s first birthday.
I love the mamas who need a break. I love the mamas who love their babies (and their husbands/boyfriends/partners) so much their hearts feel like bursting every single day – but still would give just about anything for one, single 24-hour period to sleep, sleep, and do nothing but sleep. I love the moms who park the car in the driveway and sit there, unmoving, for an extra sixty seconds, just to catch their breath. I love the moms frayed to their end of their rope from an overactive toddler’s ever-changing needs, who just grit their teeth, take a breath, and even though they’re seething inside, manage some semblance of a sweet tone when they say, can you say please, sweetie?
Most of all, I love the moms who reach out to each other. I love the moms who say, you’re doing a good job. I know it’s so, so hard, but you’re doing great even if you don’t feel like it – the moms who reassure each other, instead of judging one another – the moms who swoop up each other’s crying children first, just to give their mommy-friend a break for two minutes – the moms who bring each other coffee like they are personally bearing the Holy Grail. I love moms venting about their rough work day as they meet outside the pump room at the office, knowing of all the people at work, only this other new mom knows how it feels to juggle all this and constantly fear she might drop something. I love working moms messaging each other in solidarity about how much they miss their babies at home, how hard it is to be away from them, how heartbreaking. I love stay-at-home moms rounding up their children and heading to each other’s houses just their kids can wrestle each other while the moms drink their fourth cup of coffee in the kitchen and have actual adult conversations about more than just Cheerios and poop and Pokemon.
Moms make the world go round. They are often in the shadows, in the wings – they so often put their needs behind every other person’s in their lives. And they love being mamas – maybe not every moment of every day, maybe some weeks or months are harder – but they wouldn’t do it if they didn’t love the singularly unique title of Mom. And this year, I love being a part of the club. I love celebrating this Mother’s Day, not just in context of how my own life has changed this past year – but in celebration of all the mothers who came before me – who raised me, taught me, and cherished me – and all the mothers to come after me. Happy Mother’s Day, my sisters – may you all feel cherished and overwhelmed with love.