Thought Catalog

What Being A New Mom REALLY Means, Because It’s Not All Unconditional Love And Snuggles

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new mom and her baby

Perhaps this seems obvious, but if I’ve learned one thing, it’s that the most beautiful truths often lurk within the most obvious realities: Getting pregnant and giving birth is a life-changing decision. And not the kind of life-changing decision that eventually dissolves, like moving to a new city, executing a career pivot, or adopting a pet. That new city will soon feel like home, that new job will gradually become second nature, and that pet won’t actually live THAT long.

Having a child, on the other hand, is a lifelong commitment to a certain kind of chaos.

And the weight of that commitment probably won’t hit you until that tiny, defenseless baby of yours exits the womb and lies asleep—or writhes and wails—in your arms. Until you look upon the little life you’ve created and realize just how fragile it really is. Until you see, firsthand, that your baby is completely dependent upon you for their ongoing survival. That they are a product of you. That they ARE you.

You are fated to love your baby unconditionally. And you will ache to snuggle him or her whenever possible. Even when your child isn’t around, you will feel their presence, like a phantom limb. They will be with you, on some level, always.

But unconditional love is the easy part.

Being a new mom is really about a subtle, permanent shift in perspective. It’s about making room within your identity for being a parent on top of everything else. Prioritizing differently. Making quicker decisions. Ditching the shit you used to tolerate—like a toxic friend, or a labor intensive hobby—entirely.

It’s about accepting the fact that you can no longer ensure there’s a spare bottle of Listerine beneath the bathroom sink at all times. That the laundry will pile up. That you will sometimes run out of paper towels. That you might have to order takeout one night because there’s absolutely nothing to eat in the fridge. That you might crash at 7pm on a day your baby wakes, unexpectedly, at 4am because their fifth tooth just decided to pop out.

Suddenly, you lack the options you once had—to leave the house freely, to eat whenever you want, to watch a movie or sleep for a lengthy stretch uninterrupted. But you’re not bitter about it. You answer to someone else at all hours of the day. But they’re not your superior. They’re your kin.

When you become a mother, you are inevitably overwhelmed by a newfound sense of responsibility. 

And there’s no turning back. You’re a parent, period. You dive in, and there’s no step ladder off to the side. The only choice is to figure out how the fuck to swim day in and day out, knowing that you will falter again and again. There will be times when you choke on water for so long, you think you’re about to drown. Because you are! But then, somewhat miraculously, you figure it out.

The most dramatic aspect of being a new mom isn’t the undying love you have for your child. That’s natural. You’re programmed to feel that way from day one. Being a new mom is really about the accumulation of tiny changes you must make to accommodate your little boy or girl for the rest of your life. It’s about acquiescing to parenthood—because you’ve made that choice. Because that’s what’s required. And if you don’t, no one else will. TC mark

Mélanie Berliet

I adore the following, in no particular order: knee-high tube socks, acrostic poetry, and my little brother. There's more!

This is me letting you go

If there’s one thing we all need to stop doing, it’s waiting around for someone else to show up and change our lives. Just be the person you’ve been waiting for.

At the end of the day, you have two choices in love – one is to accept someone just as they are and the other is to walk away.

We owe it to ourselves to live the greatest life that we’re capable of living, even if that means that we have to be alone for a very long time.

“Everyone could use a book like this at some point in their life.” – Heather
“The right words at the right moment, this is the kind of book you have to read when your heart is trying to heal.” – Charly
Let go now
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