You are doing just fine
Dear New Mama,
Welcome to motherhood. I need you to know right now, you are not prepared for this journey into motherhood. I know that you think you are ready, but really, you’re not. Yes, you work with children on a daily basis as a teacher. You taught fourth graders the fundamentals of reading and writing and how to be kind. I know that you taught middle schoolers to have confidence in themselves and how to find their voice. But this whole motherhood thing? It’s so different.
You are going to struggle. You are going to cry. You are going to wonder if having one baby is so hard, is it worth it to have more and you’ll find out the answer will be unequivocally yes.
You are going to find out that working a full-time job teaching other people’s babies will make you miss your own. You are going to struggle between feeling like you are neglecting your baby at home and neglecting your babies at school. You will find yourself torn in two and feeling that you are failing at motherhood and failing as a teacher.
You never saw yourself as a stay-at-home mom. You were going to set the world on fire and change the world one student at a time. And you did when you were called to be a teacher.
Then, you will be called to be a full-time stay-at-home mother. What you don’t know now, is that you are actually good at it; not only with mothering one child, but mothering four children. How about that?
If I could meet you now the first thing I would say to you is give yourself some grace. You do not have to be good at everything. You just have to be willing to learn, to be patient, and not give up.
When depression takes hold of you, talk to your husband. Tell him you’re scared. Tell your sisters-in-law. Tell them you are overwhelmed and tired. They aren’t going to think you are a failure. They are going to help you find your way back.
When your oldest is diagnosed with autism, it’s okay. You will learn to parent him. He’ll teach you so much about patience and grace. And he’ll help you teach others. I know it’s scary that you won’t be able to protect him from the world. But he won’t need protection, he’ll need an advocate and you are the perfect person for that role even when you don’t think you are the right person. Have a little faith.
The other kids will learn more patience and grace. Your oldest daughter will use her home experience to be the helper in the classroom. She’ll know how to work with kids who are overwhelmed and overstimulated and she’ll have the patience and grace to help them when they need it. And when you are diagnosed with cancer, she’ll be the one to stand by your side at age 11 as she takes the younger ones for walks around the neighborhood looking for the hedges that might take them to Narnia.
You’ll find that you’ll get the most laughs from you goofy third-born with his helmet of hair that he tried to cut by himself during his lockdown during a pandemic. He’ll show what it means to laugh and play without reservation. He’ll teach you to sing and dance to Hamilton. You love his big heart and his fondness for love stories and fairy tale endings. And at the age of 9, he will still think you’re the most wonderful and beautiful woman in the world, even when you lose your hair to chemotherapy.
You will find out the youngest will complete your family. She will be your willing sidekick as your volunteer in classrooms and go grocery shopping pre-pandemic. She’ll offer you her favorite blanket that you crocheted for her when she was a baby as you lay on the couch resting, again, because of all the cancer treatments. At the age of 5 she will ask you and her big sister to join her she-wolf pack and will periodically put her hands to her head as wolf ears as the three of you howl in delight over something funny or most importantly during a bonding moment. You’ll hope that you’ll get to she-wolf howl with them at their weddings…but that’s a long way off just yet.
I know that you are overwhelmed when you hold your first baby in your arms and you’ll doubt you’ll be good enough. As you nurse him in the middle of the night rocking and listening to Jim Dale’s voice come through the speakers as Harry Potter and his friends, you’ll wonder what the future will look like. And I can tell you without a doubt, you’ll be good enough. It won’t be easy and the teen years might make you want to give up. But hold on. Savor their laughter, their goofiness, their toothless grins, their singing, and their wolf pack howls.
Hold on to it. You are doing just fine.