Hey, New Mom, It's Totally Fine to Not Be Fine
I talked to this new mom at a coffee shop the other day. She had an 18 month-old and a newborn. It was the first time she was out of the house since getting home from the hospital a week before.
The baby was premature and only a few weeks old.
As I do with every new mom I see I made an effort to ask how she was doing. Everyone asks about the baby. But the mother has just been born, too.
She smiled and answered with a cheerful, “Fine! I’m doing great.”
“That’s good,” I replied.
She continued bouncing around after her toddler with the baby in the sling.
They departed after a while when the toddler got restless and the baby got hungry so as to avoid the circus that would inevitably ensue as she tried to nurse in the coffee shop.
I told her, “You’re doing awesome,” as she lugged her wily crew out to the car.
“Thanks,” she giggled and went on her way.
“Really?” I speculated? Is she really doing fine?
I know I wasn’t fine after either one of my childbirths and certainly not while trying to adjust to the transition of one kid to two.
Hell, I’m still not fine.
Things shift. Some things get easier. Some things get harder.
Maybe she is fine. In which case, I will gulp down my envy and resentment toward her and all the other women who seamlessly float into motherhood. That has not been my story.
But how sad it is that even those of us who are NOT fine, plaster a smile on our faces and chirp cheery responses when people gush over our squirmy new bundles.
I dream of a time when we can respond with, “I have to drag myself out of bed every morning. I long for intelligent conversation. I shower approximately once a week and feel like I have no earthly idea what I’m doing most of the time.”
(And if you ever run into me somewhere, this might just be how I respond. Just sayin’.)
How can we make this happen?
Start the conversation- ask moms how they’re REALLY doing and LISTEN to the answer.
Advocate for paid FAMILY leave- when dads can take equal responsibility for baby care in the months after birth, moms get the time to recover they need.
Connect and show we’re thinking of each other. Send a kind text, give a meaningful compliment, pop by with a surprise latte.
We can start by BEing the change we want to see. We’re stronger together. And whether you’re truly fine, or not, I’m with you, friend.