I thought this was going to be easier. I just didn’t get it. Everyone, including you, told me this was going to be hard. But I had no idea.
I heard women talking about how once they had kids they could barely figure out how to shower, let alone string a sentence together or put on matching socks. I thought surely they were just disorganized. I figured I could handle it. I mean, I’m a successful entrepreneur with excellent organizational skills.
I was so wrong. So very wrong.
Mom, I just didn’t know. I didn’t realize how many diapers you’ve changed, that you’ve had my poop on your hands so many, many times. I didn’t know the juggling act you performed every day: work, kids, family, meals, money, repeat. I was completely unaware of what it took to keep all of us balls in the air. I didn’t even know there were other balls – I felt like I was the only one – that’s what an amazing juggler you are.
I get now how your heart broke in a million pieces when you dropped me at daycare when I was six weeks old. That you made the hard decision to go back to work. And that if you’d decided to stay home that would have been hard, too. I get it now that if you choose to leave your babe and go to work, or leave your work and stay with your babe, or even some combination of the two, it’s hard. Period. I left a daycare tour yesterday and broke down in tears before I even reached my car. Imagining dropping P off there feels like dropping off one of my organs (my heart, specifically) somewhere and then just leaving for the day while strangers take care of it. But a million times worse.
I had no idea how uncomfortable it would be – physically bringing a child into this world, but also emotionally and mentally and spiritually. Deeply uncomfortable on so many levels. I didn’t know how out of control I would feel so much of the time. I get it now why you didn’t have the bandwidth to care much about the house when we were little. I get now that you have to make choices, and sometimes the choice is sanity over decluttering. I honor you for making that choice.
I didn’t get how all-consuming loving a tiny person is. How my heart and my arms ache for her when I’m away. How I sometimes yearn to have my freedom back when I’m with her. How I feel really badly about that. Everyone tells you how hard it is. But you just don’t get it until you do.
I had no idea how much it took to raise tiny humans as close to well as you can muster. And I’m only 8 months in with one of them. I had no idea how little sleep I could function on. I had no idea that so many other people can, too.
I had no idea how precious time alone in a quiet house would be to me someday. Like worth thousands of dollars an hour precious. I had no idea how much life shrinks when you’re tending to the needs of a little human. How the minutiae IS my life. How boring and sacred it could be all at the same time.
And most especially I had no idea how much you loved me until I looked at my own baby girl and felt my heart expand big enough to contain several galaxies, at least. To know that I’m as precious to you as this little baby girl is to me brings me to my knees in awe. We have all been that precious, innocent, purely lovable baby. We are all made of that same stuff.
Thank you for the lullabies and the cuddles, for the sleepless nights and the back rubs.
Thank you for always picking up the phone, no matter how late or early I called.
Thank you for telling whoever needed to be told what was what when I was too young or scared to do it. And for encouraging me to tell them when it was time for me to do it.
Thank you for coming to New York to scoop up the million pieces of my broken heart and for listening to me detail Penelope’s sleep dramas for the last 8 months as though it’s interesting.
Thank you for courageously doing the work you needed to do despite me throwing myself at your feet and begging you to stay home.
Thank you for showing me what it means to be a mother who loves her babies fiercely and who loves herself fiercely.
Thank you for trusting me so I learned I could trust myself.
Thank you for caring as deeply about me as I care about Penelope. I never knew I was cared for like that until I felt it for another.
There are things we cannot get until it’s time to get them. I’m so new at this mothering thing. I know I don’t know much. But I do know that you’ve been doing it for 35 years, and I do know that you’re doing a damn good job. I’m in awe. I do know that billions of women have and are doing it around the planet, and I’m in awe of them, too.
Mom, I just didn’t have any idea before. But now I do.
Thank you for loving me every second of every day of my life even though I didn’t have a clue how much that took. Baby P is sleeping in my arms as I write this. She doesn’t have a clue that being her mother is the biggest gift and biggest challenge of my life. And nor should she.
I will continue to love her with every fiber of my being just as you’ve loved me. And one day she may have some idea of what it takes, or she may not. I get it that that’s not the point.
The point is the loving, not the getting something back for it. But it never hurts to say thank you.
So today and every day heretofore I honor and thank you, Mom, for mothering me and for loving me in a way I didn’t even know existed before I became a mother.
I get it now.
Your Baby Girl.
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