Two and a half years ago I was in the hospital gazing down at my newborn and I couldn’t stop the tears. The tears signified helplessness, confusion and anxiety. I knew the cries were from postpartum depression. This wasn’t the tender and compassionate moment I was imagining. I so desperately wanted to feel thrilled, but my hormones were raging and my emotions were kicked off balance. At the time, I didn’t know how to deal with the feelings so I masked it up with makeup and went on my way. When I got home the anxiety consumed me and I often had moments of guilt and sorrow. My sweet Husband held me tight while burping our babe and taking over diaper duty.
The dark memories of those first few days are happy because he helped me adjust and survive. You know what else helped me survive? Taking away the pressure of being the Mom that can flawlessly handle a newborn all while cooking and cleaning in high heels. If we are being completely honest here, there were hours when I didn’t get out of my pajamas. Days where I didn’t shower until 4pm. Whole weeks where I didn’t make one decent meal.
Once I took that pressure off myself I was better able to function. It was in these minutes where I took time to cherish my newborn, to sing to her, kiss her, snuggle her, bond with her, and not worry about anything else. It was in those moments where I figured out what was important, what I needed to do, and how strong I was.
Little by little as I took care of myself by lowering the artificial theories of motherhood, I was uncovering my true happiness. I felt happy just me with my baby, in my yoga pants, and undone hair. Little by little I was able to feel more comfortable in my new calling and I felt more confident in my role. I learned how to ask for help, relinquish control, and let go of the expectations of what the world defines as the “perfect mother.” (By the way, there is no perfect mother. Just women who are loving their children, perfectly.)
And that is why the only advice I give to new moms is to not get out the vacuum, don’t pick up a spatula and put down the blow dryer. Enjoy these moments; take a break from cooking and cleaning, take care of yourself. Trust me…the dishes and the laundry can wait. Your happiness can’t.