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To a tired new mom: How to survive losing your identity

“Mom, where are you?” | © Tim Bish 171738, Unsplash

Dear new mom,

I’ve been in your shoes.

I wanted to have a baby. I was afraid of having a baby. I had two at once. I was 35.

I slept 2 hours at night and 2 hours during the day. We had 11 baby bottles.

The boy had colics for more than 3 months. I had mastitis and postpartum anemia. He had torticollis and we had to do physical therapy exercises.

He would wake up 3 times at night for bottle feeding until he was 2. The girl was irritable and it was hard to put her to sleep during the day. In the morning she would wake up at 5 a.m. When she grew up a bit she would wake up at 7. She still does and she is almost 4.

We tried everything to synchronize them for sleeping routine. Nothing could work, they are just too different: their temperaments and their needs, from day one.

I had help — my mother, my sister, and my partner were there first. Later we got a babysitter to help me out. It wasn’t enough.

I didn’t have time to wash my hair. Of course, I said goodbye to seeing my friends. I noticed that I sat down to relax for the first time when they started walking.

I counted days until they would become old enough so that there are no colics anymore. Until they could sit. They could crawl. Walk. Until they would have just one nap during the day so that we could finally synchronize their sleeping routines (and we didn’t). Until the boy stops crying for a bottle during the night. Until the eczema pass. Until the ear infections pass.

Counting is good. It gives you hope that the current situation will change after a definite period of time. Counting is tricky. Very often that’s just not the right period of time. When you finally give up on what you wish for and accept the circumstances, the situation changes. Gradually.

You will want them to self-soothe and fall asleep on their own. Maybe you’ll cry after hearing them cry in their little cribs as you leave them in the room. That’s ok. I did. I am still not sure about the method. You should listen to your own gut feeling as well.

New mom and her baby | © Sean Roy 202825, Unsplash

You won’t know who you are anymore.

First, you won’t have time to think about it. You will just want the most tiring period to pass. You’ll hope everything will be different afterward. And maybe it will.

As the months pass, you will realize that you are still a mom. The status never changes. There is always something for you to do. You won’t have those old idle moments for a very long time. You will be somebody who always puts her needs in the second place because they are small.

Maybe your career will suffer because the day just doesn’t last 30 hours. Work, the kids’ needs, housework, playtime, bed routine.

Your relationship will probably suffer, too. Not just the sex life. General intimacy. There will be some resentment. Indifference. Hostility. Falling-out. And that’s what happens to us all.

Parenting is hard.

It is a lifelong undertaking. And you just can’t pass it with flying colors only. You will make mistakes. The same ones that you swore to yourself that you will never make. Or the very opposite of them.

Accept that you will fail at something but always have good intentions.

Parenting is an invaluable lesson — it makes you finally accept your own limitations. Your fears and unrealistic expectations. Your partner’s failings. You will see those shortcomings in your children. You will realize that the irritable ways of behavior are a part of somebody’s nature. People are born with it. Some things cannot be changed even with your best intentions and a lot of work.

Parenting makes you more tolerant. You become more accepting because there are more important things, you don’t have time, you need help, you cannot change someone’s nature.

So, dear new mom,

You are really gaining something great.

You will never be the same.

And yes, you will want to beat the hell out of them sometimes. And you will often love them most when they are asleep.

But you will have a whole functional being or two created from a little grain of your body. You will nurture them into childhood and then adulthood the best way you can. You will do everything to protect them and help them become good people. You will give them unconditional love.

Bear in mind that they are not your projects. From day one they have their own natures. You will have to adapt your approach to them to teach them what you think is right.

As they start to grow, you will see more the fruits of your labor — how you taught them to behave, what moral values to have, and to know right from wrong. You will see that the whole effort pays off.

So, dear tired mom,

Sleepless nights will pass.

Physical tiredness will pass.

Tantrums will pass.

They will be less often sick.

They will become more independent.

You will have more time.

Nobody can tell you when exactly this is going to happen.

But you will have a person or two (or even more) who you will love forever. It really does pay off.

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Maria Milojković, MA

Maria Milojković, MA

Serbian translator | Life is unpredictable but rewarding. Create, it will save you | Get my digest on what makes life worth living👉