I am thrilled to be bringing you another guest post this week by my friend Grace Allen.
I am writing this to you as your friend, as a fellow woman, and a fellow mama myself. I am writing these words that lie ahead because these are the words that I at some point or another needed to hear myself. Some of these words are going to be hard for me to write, and others will flow so quickly and easily off of my fingertips, and for that, I ask that you be patient with me, and put all judgment aside as you read.
I am going to start by saying this: from the very depths of my heart there is no single thing that brings me more joy, or makes me more proud, than to be a mother. It is hands down the reason that God created me, I just know it. What I also know is that I am human, I am a young, educated, full of life and need for adventure woman with needs of her own–that aren’t met nearly as often as they were prior to being “mama.” Maybe you can relate, and maybe you’re already sitting at your computer, or phone, judging me… but, thats okay, because before I was a mother, I judged too. Really freaking hard, if we are being open and honest. I judged the mama I saw out to eat with girlfriends while her kid sat in a highchair watching some kind of something on a screen as I swore to myself my child would never watch TV (Luca has his own iPad that is fully stocked with every single episode of Blaze and The Monster Machines and we go NO WHERE without it), I judged the mama that I saw drinking a glass of wine while her newborn baby slept (you already know how I feel about this one– bring on the red wine), I judged the mama that dropped her kids off in the Godforsaken kid’s room so that she could workout, because “germs” (I’ve been scouring the internet for a studio with childcare so that I can attend barre, all while I expose my children to “germs”). Let me just tell you what I’ve found: there is no single thing on earth that will make you eat your words and apologize (in your mind–because there is no possible way to track down) every single undeserving woman that you judged before you yourself walked in her shoes– and that single thing is MOTHERHOOD. There a’int no hood like mother-hood, y’all.
With each baby comes a new set of lessons, a new experience and a new version of what kind of “mama” you find yourself to be.
For the first time mama, I want to tell you–
to take all the naps that you can while your baby sleeps— because, the next time you have a sleeping newborn, you will also have a toddler that doesn’t like to sit still.
to fly on all the airplanes-– because, you only have one lap.
to not be so stuck on “being the same woman you were, but now just ‘with a baby’”— because, guess what? the world can wait. the laundry can wait. the workout can wait. you know what can’t wait? time. time waits for nobody, especially a growing, changing, precious newborn.
to slow down— because, like I said before, toddlers don’t slow down and honestly, this is the ONLY season of your life that will move this slowly– you will never again only have a newborn. soak. it. all. in. the quiet. the peace. the exhaustion. slow down. it can wait.
to not worry when it starts to get dark outside— because, stressing yourself out about what the night ahead of you holds won’t change the night ahead of you. I promise, you will sleep again.
to accept the help— because, you need it. we all do. from one over-achieving mama to another, it will not make you weak, but, it will make you sane. accept the help when your mom offers to come to town for a week, or two, or three after the baby is born (even if you guys sometimes don’t see eye to eye. I love you, Mom), accept the help when your bestie offers to come sit with your baby so that you can shower (because, smelling bad doesn’t make anybody happy), accept the help when your dad who may not know the first things about newborns offers to come breakdown all the boxes in your garage and properly hang your nursery curtains (dad, I know you don’t know how to use a computer, but, if by some wild chance you are ever reading this– thank you for being the sole reason that my garage isn’t piled high with boxes (and that R hasn’t killed me yet, lol) and that my curtains aren’t hung with duct tape. ily, so much.)
to talk about your feelings— because, not every woman handles the transition to motherhood the same, and however you adjust doesn’t make you any more or any less of a mama– and trying to navigate this alone isn’t healthy. talk about what you’re feeling, be honest, be open, it’s okay. we are here for you, we are your village, your tribe. we stick together. we build one another up.
finally, please kiss that baby of yours for me, and give yourself a hug. you deserve it. you are modern-day superwoman and you are beautiful (bags under your eyes, unwashed hair and all.) I love you.
For the mama of two (and I am by no means a seasoned mother of two, but it’s amazing what two months can do for yah), I want to tell you–
you mother effing ROCK (major pun intended).
like, stop reading right now and go look at yourself in the mirror and speak some major positive words over yourself. you freaking deserve it. you knew what pregnancy does to your body, and you chose to do it all over again. you know what comes with having a newborn, a teething child, a child learning to navigate the world, a child who has a majorly strong will, and you chose to do it all over again. you are selfless, you are far more than you think that you are.
now that we have that out of the way, what I really want to tell you is this–
it will get easier.
I have never cried so much in my entire life. ever. There were days, and I am sure still days ahead, that all three of us were crying– at the same damn time. There were days, and I am sure still days ahead, that I literally curled up in a ball on the floor and cried out wondering how TF I was going to not only survive– but, raise these children well.
The good news is this– the light is just around the corner. The days will get easier, next month, next week, tomorrow, later today. It will get better, it will get easier. There will be a day when you wake up and you feel like you’ve always had two children. I promise. I wish that I could hug you right now, because I know how badly you need it.
I decided that I was going to write this post to you when I was 9 days PP, had just gotten Luca down to bed, recovering from a C section, while my daughter slept on my chest and I was balling my eyes out searching the internet for something–anything– that could give me some peace. I needed to hear that I was going to be okay. I needed to hear that I wasn’t deserting my first born. I needed to hear that other women with two children who had C sections got to hug their toddlers again, carry them, rock them to sleep, play with them. I needed to hear that I was going to be okay… and here I am, 9 weeks ahead of you– doing so so SO much better than “okay.” You will too. I love you.
the impossible, becomes possible.
The first time I left the house with two children I swore that I was never going to do it again. I did. You will too. The thing about that is this– you never know if something is going to be great, or a disaster, until you do it. Does that make sense? Like, you may decide to not do something because you feel like it’ll be a mess– only to decide to actually do it, and realize that it was seamless. Or, the flip side– you decide to do something because you feel like it’ll be easy, it’s simple– what could go wrong? Only to find yourself in the midst of a legit disaster. But, you don’t know until you try– and, we are strong women– we try.
I’ve survived COSTCO during Thanksgiving week and sat through an entire NFL game. Yeah, my kid may or may not have been launching his toy cars down the six rows ahead of us and my daughter may or may not have had her diaper changed on my lap, but, you get it. We did it. I’m no pro, but if you would’ve told the girl I talked about above (crying in bed, searching the internet for the words that she needed to hear) that she would do those two things, she probably would’ve started crying even harder because there was just no way to wrap her (my) mind around how that could even happen. It did. It will for you too.
The coordinating of WTF you need to leave home with two kids will become second nature. You will eventually be able to successfully get yourself together, both of your children dressed, pack what is needed, load them into the car all on your own, and in record time. I promise.
the first time you are left alone with both of them will be scary.
yeah, you read that right. SCARY. like, I remember the first time I was by myself with both of MY own children, I literally was afraid of my own kids…. yup. I said it. SCARED. Like, I was sure that I would’ve been more comfortable deep sea diving with great white sharks (and I am effing terrified of sharks). The funny thing is, it was totally fine. Like, it wasn’t flawless… but it was fine– I am here writing this now and both of my children are napping. WE ARE THRIVING. you will too, it just takes some time.
your toddler will adjust, your toddler will fall in love.
this was the hardest part of bringing baby number two home.
when I left the house to go to my doctors appointment for a checkup just prior to my due date Luca was napping, so I didn’t say goodbye to him. I thought in my mind that I would be home in an hour, only to be admitted to the hospital and taken in for a C section that same day. As they rolled me back to perform the surgery that was going to lead me to holding my daughter in a few short moments, I was legit a mess– not because I was having a C section, but because I didn’t get to say goodbye to my boy, because I was worried about how he would adjust, how he would adapt… and I think I was so worried because deep down I knew it was going to be hard.
and it was.
my sweet Luca turned into a wild banchee for a solid three weeks. I am talking tantrums, biting, hitting… horrible. I blamed myself. I blamed Lennon. I blamed Rico. I blamed anybody that I could blame because I needed somewhere to place the guilt that I was feeling for “ruining” Luca’s life. You may have just read that prior sentence and thought terrible things about me/questioned if I have lost my mind/questioned if I deserve my children, etc.. if you did, that’s okay, and it’s clear I didn’t write that (or probably any of these words) for you. I wrote it for the woman who is sitting there reading this and sighing a deep sigh of relief that she isn’t alone and that she isn’t some terrible person who wasn’t cut out to be a mother. Those words are for you. All of my words are for you, because you are changing the world.
can I just tell you what happened to my insides the first time that Luca heard his sister crying and literally bulldozed from his bedroom to her bassinet to check on her?
can I just tell you what happened to my heart the first time I said “give sister a kiss” and he leaned in, with his full body, and kissed her right on her fricking head?
I can’t even put it into words. and the crazy thing is that I know it’s only going to get better.
turns out, I didn’t ruin Luca’s life. I think that I gave Luca life, actually. I gave Luca the best gift that anybody can have– the gift of a sibling, the gift of a person with the same blood as you, to do life with, a person who will defend you until the day you die, a person that will get you. I gave Luca his first “real life” experience and I taught Luca probably the greatest lesson to this day– and that is this, although life changes, family doesn’t. our family may look different now, mama might not have as much time to sit on the floor and play trucks, but mama still loves you, she loves you more than she ever has before.
your bonding may be different the second time around.
if you would’ve told me five weeks ago that I would admit this on the world wide web, I would’ve told you that you were insane… considering that it took me 5 weeks to admit this to my very own husband. consider yourselves special. but, again, these are the words that I needed, and as long as I am alive, I want to write the words that I needed at one point or another so that even if just one person can find comfort, it serves me well. These words are for you. Please be gentle with me.
I bonded with my son immediately. I was “that” mother that pretty much just slid into the whole motherhood thing. There wasn’t a single day that I missed my selfish way of living– and by selfish, I mean, doing whatever the eff I wanted, whenever the eff I wanted. Nothing was more special than my baby. Nothing was more fun than my baby.
Then comes the second baby.
I loved my daughter the moment that two lines showed up on a pregnancy test back in February. I loved my daughter the moment I saw her perfect profile on an ultrasound at 17 weeks. I loved my daughter the moment Rico placed her on my chest. But, I didn’t fully bond with my daughter for a few weeks. whoah. I just said it.
I fucking beat myself up every minute of every day because I was comparing my emotions the second time around to my emotions the first time, and they were different. They felt different. I felt different. Looking back now– why is that so bad? Why did my emotions have to be the same? They didn’t. They don’t. and honestly, they probably won’t be.
Want to know why? because, you’re different. you’re a seasoned mother. you know what lies ahead of you this time around. because, all of those “sweet” bonding moments that you had the first time– i.e soft, quiet, sweet, nursing sessions lasting as long as baby needed/wanted– become holding your newborn with one arm and defending your newborn from her/his older sibling with the other. those quiet naps that you used to just take on the sofa whenever newborn fell asleep– yeah, same as above. 99% of the time that Leni is asleep and calm, she is somewhere so that she is “safe” from her little brother that loves her something so freaking fierce that he doesn’t even know his own strength. so, the moments that I spent most with Leni were the moments when she was unable to be calmed, needing to be changed, etc.
Once I admitted to my husband how I was feeling, he looked me in my (tear filled) eyes, and he told me something that changed everything for me. I am not going to share his words with you, because that is for him if he were to choose– but, what I learned in that moment is that God is a God of grace, and God is a God of balance.. and God will never, ever, ever, give you more than you can handle without giving you someone to walk through it with you. R, you are that for me. I admitted the thing that was hardest for me to even admit to myself, and you took it upon yourself to make sure that you gave me the gift of grace. Not only did you give me the gift of grace, you gave me the gift of time…which, if any of you know, is literally non-existent during football season. You gave me the gift of girl’s days– you took Luca to breakfast so that I could sleep in with my girl. You took Luca out to play so that I could lay on the sofa and look into my girl’s eyes. You gave me the gift of acceptance…. and believe it or not, after a few days of just being honest with myself, and the help of my husband, Leni G became my best friend. I love her something fierce, in a way that words literally cannot even explain. She is my little tornado girl, and the world isn’t quite ready, but, I am ready. Mama is ready.
Leni, if you are reading this someday.. I hope that you aren’t mad at me for feeling what I felt. I hope that you can forgive me and I hope that you tuck these words away so that someday when you’re a mama yourself and your mama may be long gone, you know that you are the perfect mama for your babies and that you were made for this and that you aren’t alone in whatever it is that you are feeling. You are my greatest gift, my girl.
This morning I woke up and as I was sitting on the floor playing trucks with Luca as Lennon laid on a blanket next to us I knew that it was time to share these words with you. It’s amazing what two months can do.
And now that I am literally sitting at my desk bawling my eyes out with tears of joy, relief, and love– I hope that you know that I love you and that you were made for this mama-life. and even though we may never meet face to face, please know that I am a part of that village. and, it takes a village. xo, G
This post was originally published on grace-allen.com
Grace is the face behind grace-allen.com and @grace.e.allen on Instagram. After stumbling on her Instagram account almost a year ago, we have been huge cheerleaders of Grace. Her instagram and blog are both full of honesty and encouragement, and in this world of conforming, she stays real and true to herself (y'all know we love all of those things)! She and her husband are doing life and raising their beautiful little family near Atlanta and they're kind enough to share bits and pieces of their journey with all of us. So, if you're like us and love following along with women who encourage and keep it real, give Grace a follow; we love everything that she is doing and we are fortunate to be a part of this community with her. Thank you, Grace for allowing us to share part of your story on our blog!