What I Wish I’d Known As a Mom of One
An open letter, to the mother I was.
Dear Mom of one, you are giving up every trace of who you were before and that’s hard. Your body is swelling, you have gained some weight. You spend your Friday nights falling asleep on the couch instead of going out with friends. Those friends you thought you would have for life, are thinning out with each passing week. Your phone calls and text messages are going unanswered. Your invitations to birthday parties and weekend getaways are non-existent. It is discouraging.
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It’s only just begun. You were excelling in your career before. You had a bright future and a corner office with your name on it. If only you could just work a few more hours, and secure another client or two. But last night your young baby was up cluster feeding, and today you can’t pump enough milk. So you go home early to nourish your baby. Then next thing you know, they are cutting their first tooth and running a fever – nothing but Mom will suffice. So you set your alarm to wake you up before the office opens, and callout on your bosses voicemail. Because you are afraid of what they’ll say when you call out again.
Your clothes are fitting snugly, and you have noticed different treatment from others. You aren’t the fun young girl in the office anymore. You are the exhausted young Mom, buying diapers and wipes in the self-checkout line, praying your baby doesn’t have another mustard colored blowout while you wait for your turn to leave. It seems like there is no light at the end of the tunnel.
Then Before you know it, your baby teaches you what it needs. You know before they do, when a tooth is coming and load up on the natural remedies they need. You know when a growth spurt is about to hit and finally can plan your days accordingly. They put themselves on somewhat of a schedule and you learn that somewhere between 1pm and 3pm every day, you can expect a nap from them, and a chance to cook and clean for you.
You make countless sacrifices to become the mother you are, and you are doing a great job! Your toddler may be talking more, and throwing less tantrums. Their babysitter is telling you what a joy they are and how they are so well-mannered. You have even balanced the art of being a mother and caring for yourself, so your body is starting to bounce back. You are stronger than ever. You were able to breastfeed on demand, your hormones stayed in balanced. You only fed baby the healthiest foods, and they aren’t picky compared to your friends kids.
It can be easy to forget where you came from, to begin to feel like an expert. It’s good to offer your advice and help to the mom’s around you. It’s good to feel confident in your ability to mother your child. You have done a great job, and you did come so far! You know that there is very little that coconut oil, arnica, or lavender oil can’t fix. You trust in the power of your amber teething necklace, and breastmilk, as you should.
But what you don’t know, is what it is like to have more than one kid. You don’t know how it feels to divide and give the best of yourself to two people at once each and every day. You probably don’t understand what it feels like to have unbalanced hormones contributing to your exhaustion and lack of productivity. You never raise your voice, because you can garner the attention of your one child by touching their shoulder, looking them in the eyes, and speaking softly. Your laundry is always clean, because you don’t understand that each new baby quadruples the amount of laundry you have.
You need to have grace not just for yourself, but for the Mom that you don’t think is doing a very good job. When you are judging the mom of more than one for feeding her baby formula, and asking her if she ever tried oatmeal or fenugreek, she is rolling her eyes knowing that you haven’t yet heard of all the things she tried.
When she is having a less than zen moment with her multiple kids in front of you, and you suggest yoga and meditation. She is remembering the charmed life she once led, when she had only one child and could take an hour a day to go to the gym too. The closest she comes to doing yoga, is catching her falling toddler with one hand, while avoiding spilling her protein shake on her oldest child’s homework with the other. Her daily meditation is the 30 seconds she gets on the toilet to cry, swallow her tears, and then talk to the baby who followed her into the bathroom with a thousand questions.
Mother of one, remember the early days when you were losing friends, and kissing your career goodbye. Remember the panic of that first fever, and the chaos of cutting that first tooth. Remember what it was like to feel so overwhelmed by caring for your one new baby, and then remember the grace that the more experienced mother showed you.
You are doing a great job, but one of the most important lessons motherhood teaches us, is just how much we don’t know.