But, for me, there is just something about this teeny-tiny babe. All gurgle and coo; wonderment and wiggle. This tiny little being, just a bit bigger than a bag of flour, swallows your heart whole as they completely take over your life.
It is so much harder than you can even imagine.
Even with the help of loving family and friends, when you’re the momma, you’re the momma. You are the preferred (and demanded!) cuddler and feeder. For me, especially with the breast feeding, it felt like my whole body belonged to my baby. Like I had handed my entire being over to this adorable little dictator, and I was no longer within my own jurisdiction or control.
Rather terrifying, actually.
Not long ago I received an email request for advice from a student who has become a friend. A sweet, shiny soul, who has had three children in the span of four years. (All together now – YIKES!)
She asked for some advice for when things got “really crazy.” And if you’ve never been the point person when the responsibility includes a four-year-old, two-year-old and an infant, then you just can’t even comprehend the level of chaos. And combine it with a serious lack of sleep and the total subjugation of pretty much all your own desires and goals. Even if your most ambitious goal for the day is to just take a shower (for God’s sake!).
She found what I wrote helpful, and I hope that whether your babies are two or thirty-two, you’ll consider this advice:
I’m feeling for you girl. Having it all is HARD WORK.
Only advice I can give . . . err on the side of giving attention to those older children. The baby will be the most flexible.
When people offer help TAKE IT. And if they don’t offer . . . ASK. Asking is so hard, but you’ve got to do it.
Book the babysitter. Make 20 phone calls if that is what it takes.
Ignore everything but toxic dirt. Sleep absolutely whenever you can.
Let go of silly things. The best thing about having the third is that it makes you realize what really matters, and what doesn’t.
Decide what nourishes you and MAKE IT HAPPEN — massage, yoga, walks in the neighborhood. Remember if Mama ain’t happy, ain’t no one gonna be happy. YOU and your happiness, it matters.
Don’t let your marriage suffer; ask your husband to do what will be helpful and keep the lines of communication open. I read once that any good marriage is a re-marriage . . . because you grow and change, he grows and changes . . . and your life changes. So you need to get together every so often and renegotiate who does what, what you need, what you want, what makes you happy, etc. Make sure you both realize this and it will save you a lot of money in therapy.
Know that as long as you feed, clothe and love your children, you are able to do more than most other mothers on the planet, despite their best efforts. Everything else you offer is a bonus; whatever happens to them is really their karma; take care of yours, and the rest will fall into place.
Now, where is my babysitter’s telephone number . . . .