Dear Mom on Maternity Leave, It’s Not Easy, But It’s Important

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Dear Mom on Maternity Leave, It’s Not Easy, But It’s Important // Honesty & encouragement for the post-partum momDear Mom on Maternity Leave,

It’s hard, isn’t it? You’re exhausted. You’re spent. You’re isolated and lonely. You want a shower and an opportunity to put on real clothes again. But, you don’t have the energy to actually do either. Honestly, what you’d like more than a night out on the town is five straight hours of sleep. Shoot, even three straight hours would be an improvement.

Let’s face it; maternity leave is nothing like you expected it to be, is it? It seemed like it would be a time to nap, sleep in and get some things done around the house. Maybe you envisioned it as a vacation that you’d get to spend holding, kissing and smelling a sweet baby. But, as you’ve already come to realize, it’s not that easy. In fact, it’s probably the hardest stage of your life so far.

I know you had to-do lists in your mind of all the things you’d accomplish around the house, while your sweet bundle of joy napped. Do yourself a favor; rip up that list and don’t let it cross your mind again. Don’t put pressure on yourself to accomplish anything other than caring for the baby and yourself. Sure the baby might be small, but his needs are mighty and they will exhaust you if they haven’t already.

So, instead of organizing the closet, painting the downstairs and dropping at least half of that pregnancy weight, sit down. Turn on the TV. Hold your little one and tune out the rest of the world. Plain and simple, your job is to change diapers, soothe cries, feed on demand and allow your body to heal. That’s it. Don’t put pressure on yourself to do more because those jobs are more important than you realize. They are the building blocks of a bond and the stepping stones to a relationship like none other. This bond is not forged just in the first smiles and happy coos. It is formed during those middle-of-the-night feedings and when you’re bouncing, walking and shushing her as she cries for a reason neither of you understand.

Yes, you may feel like a zombie. Sure, you probably want to go back to work. And, yes, there is a massive amount of guilt attached to that realization. You’re not alone. You may feel that you are, but you are not. But, what you are is that little one’s mom. It is a huge and massively intimidating responsibility, but you’ve got this. You’ll get there one restless night after another. You will find your stride. You will sleep again. You will at some point find the time to shower and dress and maybe even do your hair. It might not happen today or tomorrow, but it will come in time. But for now, your baby doesn’t care what you look like. He only cares that you are there. That you are present. That you show up, even with a greased back ponytail and dark circles under your eyes.

This parenting gig isn’t easy, but it’s important. The first few days and weeks and months on the job can leave any woman in tears. It’s harder than you ever imagined. But you’ve got this. You will get there one diaper, one breastfeeding session, one horrible night’s sleep at a time. For now, just sit, try to rest and be present. Lower your expectations. Toss that checklist. And, shower tomorrow.

{Photo credit @iStock.com/billyfoto.}

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