This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have written letters to themselves. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.
Dear Me of Three Years Ago,
Wait a second, I hear you saying. If you're about to go off on some sentimental BS pontification about how I should enjoy this moment because he'll grow so quickly... You can shove it.
|Crazy mama of a four-year-old!|
I get it. I really do.
Having a four-month-old is hard. Really freakin' hard. You're still sleep deprived, and the fact that you only sleep in two-hour increments (when you're lucky) has really started to take a toll. You feel like a zombie during a good portion of your waking moments. Your boobs hurt, even though both you and baby have mostly gotten the hang of breastfeeding. They still leak sometimes, too. That breastfeeding hunger has you in its grasp, and you feel constantly ravenous (and your nursing station always seems to be out of healthy snacks). You are always parched; even when you drink water all day, you're still thirsty.
But this really is a sweet time. It may be hard to fully appreciate now, but life as you know it just keeps on changing, and soon you'll miss these days.
I'm not just talking about the "he'll never be this small again" thing, although that is absolutely true. There are so many aspects of life right now that are soon going to change dramatically.
I mean, right now, you're really in a great place. Physically, at least. The postpartum bleeding, the lochia, is completely gone and has been for awhile. Your regular monthly cycle hasn't come back. You've moved beyond the worst of the breastfeeding issues, and have settled into a comfortable rhythm of feeding completely on cue. Baby still sleeps a goodly chunk of every day (spoiler alert: in three years, he'll hardly be napping at all), which means you can still slip in a daily nap or two of your own with relative ease.
And when you're not napping, you still have time to do some uninterrupted reading. Take a shower, perhaps. Or maybe even watch a little Netflix. Please take advantage of this now, because when you get to where I am, it's a whole lot harder. You probably don't want to know how little time you'll be able to carve out for movies when another few months (or years) have passed.
And now that you've well and truly gotten into a babywearing groove, you're much more mobile. During those times when baby doesn't just fall asleep while nursing, you can instead strap him to your chest and let him snooze there. You can get up and go! You can do almost anything!
It's hard to believe, but someday you will miss these days where the only thing you're expected to do is sit around and nurse a baby. Seriously. No one expects you to do much of anything around the house right now, because being a mother takes almost every ounce of your energy. Before you know it, you'll have to find time to get your home back to some semblance of clean again. At least every once in awhile. You'll have to start cooking real food again (although that's more because you want it than because anyone else expects it of you). You'll actually have to start folding the laundry again, rather than just leaving giant piles of clean clothes for the family to sift through.
And speaking of breastfeeding, have I mentioned how awesome it is that you're still doing so exclusively?! Good job, you/me! You want to know what one of the bonuses of exclusive BF is? Being able to eat pretty much whatever you want. You need those extra calories every day, after all, and you already know that you'll drop the baby weight eventually. No rush there. Eat all the trail mix and dried fruit you want! Enjoy those occasional milk shakes! Your body is burning through it all, believe me, so enjoy that freedom while it lasts. Because it won't be for too much longer.
I'm not trying to make light of things, I'm really not. I'm not so far beyond those challenging early days that I've forgotten how hard it is to learn how to be a mother. That is an ongoing task, and three plus years in, I still learn something new every day. Please don't beat yourself up too much for all the things you don't know yet. You have plenty of time to learn more. Just keep on going to your friends and family for advice, reading, and, above all else, trusting your own instincts. It's an ongoing process, and your parenting skills will continue to evolve as needed.
Let me get a bit sentimental here, though. It really does go by fast. If you ever start to get sick of breastfeeding constantly, well, remember that someday your baby will no longer be nursing at all. If holding him for almost every waking hour of the day makes your arms ache, understand that you're providing him with the secure attachment he needs right now... and someday soon, he'll hardly let you carry him at all, and you'll only get the briefest of hugs and kisses. If you get tired of being the only place where he wants to sleep, know that eventually he'll climb out of your bed all on his own, retreating to his own sleeping nest after those middle of the night snuggles.
You'll miss these days. It's hard to imagine, but you will. Having a four-month-old is so hard sometimes that it's easy to lose sight of how wonderful it is, too.
Soak it up while you can.
Visit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting! Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
- Dear Me. — Meegs at A New Day writes to her decade-younger self offering a good reminder of how far she's come, and she addresses some fears she wishes future her could assuage.
- Reflecting on Motherhood with Parental Intelligence: A Letter to Myself — Laurie Hollman, Ph.D. at Parental Intelligence writes about raising her two loving, empathic sons with Parental Intelligence and finding they have become industrious, accomplished young men with warm social relationships.
- A Letter to Myself — The Barefoot Mama writes to herself in the moments around the birth of her daughter.
- A Letter to Myself — Holly at Leaves of Lavender offers a missive to herself in the past... three years in the past, to be precise, when her little one was only four months old.
- Dear me: Nothing will go the way you've planned — Lauren at Hobo Mama gets real with her just-starting-parenting self and tells it to her straight.
- A Letter to the Mama Whom I Will Become — Erin from And Now, for Something Completely Different writes a letter to the Mama whom she will one day be, filled with musings on the past, present, and future.
- Dear Me of 7 Years Ago — Lactating Girl at The Adventures of Lactating Girl writes to her pre-baby self telling her about the whirlwind she's about to enter called parenting.
- Talking to My 18 Year Old Self — HannahandHorn talks to herself as she is just entering college.
- Dear highly sensitive soul — Marija Smits tells a younger version of herself that motherhood will bring unexpected benefits - one of them being the realization that she is a highly sensitive person.
- Talking to myself: Dear Pre Stoneageparent — Stoneageparent enlightens her pre-pregnant self about the amazing transformations life has in store for her after having two children
- Dear Me: I love you. — Dionna at Code Name: Mama wrote herself a few little reminders to help her be at peace with who she is in the moment. That may give her the greatest chance of being at peace in the future, too.
- My best advice to the new mama I was 8 years ago — Tat at Mum in Search shares the one thing she wishes she'd figured out earlier in a letter to her 8-years-ago self (that's when her first baby was 6 moths old).
- A Letter to Myself — Bibi at The Conscious Doer sends a letter back in time eight years to her darkest moment post partum.
- To me, with love — Jessica at Crunchy-Chewy Mama makes peace with her past and projects what a future her will need to hear.
- To Myself on the Last Day — Rachael at The Variegated Life tells her panicked last-day-before-motherhood self not to worry.