We all sat in a large circle in the lovely home of my friend's Mother. There were many generations of women and a couple of adorable baby boys. We were all here for one very special reason. To shower the Mother to be and her soon to be born baby boy with gifts of love.
I saw some women that I hadn't seen in a while. Most of them now Mother's themselves. It was a wonderful time as we watched the radiant expectant Mother who happens to be one of my oldest and dearest friends open up presents. In between the oohing and ahhing, we gossiped, bragged about our babies, kvetched (can I say kvetch even if I'm not Jewish? Because I really, really love that word.) about our Mom bodies, discussed in probably far too much detail as all Mothers do about our births, traded information about cool baby items that we used and couldn't live without. We bonded as Mothers.
I observed a good friend of mine's tears of pure joy as she held her best friend's baby and wished I could be so openly emotional. I'd had that moment on the way to the baby shower while listening to a sappy song. There's something about already being a Mother and knowing the Big Love that comes with it. The realization that a wonderful friend will be bestowed with the biggest blessing in the world very soon is moving. Babies as it turns out...are kind of a big deal.
I realized on my way home from the shower that I'd forgotten to sign the booklet with my name, address and words of wisdom for the Mother to be. I wondered what words I would impart to my good friend about Motherhood. After all...I'm fairly new to the club. I've only been doing this Motherhood gig for just over 4.5 years now and quite honestly...I'm wingin' it as I go. Could I say that? 'Just wing it?' Those aren't especially great words of wisdom. 'Call me. (if you need to vent, talk, cry)'? But I know she's probably going to do that a lot anyway. 'Don't sweat the small stuff'...I could tell her that...but what does that even mean anyway? You could tell a new Mother not to sweat the small stuff until you're blue in the face and chances are...she's still going to sweat the small stuff. And the big stuff. And all the in between stuff. It's what Mother's do.
Nope. None of those words of advice were worthy or even good. So instead I decided to compile of a list of "It's O.K.'s" because nothing makes a new Mother (or even another Mother) feel better than when you hear them say they've been there, done that, it's all going to be okay.
1. It's okay to let your baby sleep on your chest all snuggly warm and scrumptious while watching daytime t.v. for hours at a time. In your p.j.'s. While eating Nutella from the jar. (or if you're a salt lover, Cheetos) I mean...as long as your not doing this EVERYDAY for weeks straight...enjoy, revel, bask. Because sooner than you think that little bugger is going to be demanding Treehouse and sayonara Live with Kelly and whoever his name is now. You're screwed out of watching anything other than Dora the Explorer, Fireman Sam, Caillou and Max and Ruby. You may actually begin to question things like why does Dora always forgive that jerk Swiper and why is she so damn LOUD? And why is Caillou bald and why don't his parents ever get pissed off at that little brat? And where the hell are Max and Ruby's parents?
2. It's okay to want to do the dishes when your husband gets home rather than hang out with your baby. You've been with the child all the live long day and chances are he or she's been hangin' off your boob most of it. Sometimes doing the dishes is a great respite. Your husband on the other hand will think he's being husband of the year because he's doing the dishes so just quietly hand him your sweet chubkins and take over.
3. It's okay if you feel like a disgusting, leaky, stinky blob of a person. You have liquids coming from every orphus of your being. And you probably haven't showered in a few days. And you just had a baby. It's totally normal.
4. It's okay if you feel like popping your husband in the nose sometimes. For no reason. Or for many reasons. Just don't actually do it.
5. It's okay to cry, cry and cry some more. You probably will be an emotional catastrophe for the first few weeks and the tears will fall all too easily...over your baby's coos, a sappy song, McDonald's commercials. You may be surprised at what will make you weepy. And that? Is so normal too.
6. It's okay to ask for help. Don't even think about it. Do it. Especially if you feel like you're tipping the scales toward desperation.
7. It's okay to think you're baby is being an asshole. (sorry - but you probably will have these moments). He or she is NOT actually being an asshole on purpose to make you crazy. They're just being babies and babies cry and demand a lot from you.
8. It's okay to want to scream. Just scream into a pillow so your neighbours don't freak out and call the cops.
9. It's okay to feed your baby however you wish. Boob, bottle, both. You love your baby more than anything else. That's all that matters. Don't let anyone else make you feel guilty or weird or whatever for your choices. It's your business and no one else's.
10. It's okay to feel like you have no clue what you're doing. Do any of us really know what the heck we're doing? There's no Motherhood instruction booklet, no manual. It's really kind of insane if you think about it. There are, however, baby books - like hundreds of thousands of them. And I would encourage a new Mother to not read too many of them. It will skyrocket your (already new) anxiety as a Mother to new heights. And this thing they call 'Mother's Instinct?' It's not always there right away. The best thing to do when you're feeling overwhelmed or simply need to talk is to call a friend who's a Mother.
11. It's okay if you don't feel immediately connected to your baby. I think this is probably more common with first time Mama's but even more so with women that have had a very difficult pregnancy and or labour and birth. I'm no psychologist but it's a pretty bizarre moment meeting this little being that's been growing in your belly for almost 10 months. It's a beautiful moment, no doubt about it. Beautifully bizarre though.
12. It's okay to do whatever it takes to make your beautiful cherub go the f&^% to sleep. Rock him, sing to him, put him in a swing, carry him, drive him around, walk with him, bounce with him on an exercise ball (take it from me - that thing was my sanity saver). Don't stress yourself out about the whole sleep training thing. A regular bed time routine works best (and that's the only 'real' advice I have) but it's definitely not something to really concern yourself with within the first few months.
Your baby will never be spoiled with too many squishes, kisses, cuddles and love.
Indulge yourself at every whim.
Take time to enjoy the ride. Babyhood is not always easy but the sweet moments sure are delectably delicious.