Becoming a mom for the first time is a lot like transporting back to freshman year of high school. First there’s the excitement of entering a new phase of life. Then the post-partum hormones begin to mimic puberty causing inexplicable mood swings, sweating, and acne. You look in the mirror to find a body that you don’t recognize as your own. You’re tired, confused, and feeling like everyone else knows what to do except you. Cue the high school flashbacks now.
Crushes. From the moment you laid eyes on him you knew this was it, your first love. But new mommy love is not about notes that ask “Do you like me? Check yes or no.” This is a boundless, tireless, sacrificial love. It is a love that offers the sleeve of my favorite top for his runny nose mucous, a love that will eat the soggy cheerio he pulled out of his mouth to share, a love that will forgo years of sleep, solid meals, and even showers to usher this tiny human into life.
Cliques. No high school experience would be complete without catty girls, and surprisingly those mean girls also grow up to be mommies too. You would think that bringing new life into the world would bind us all into a sisterhood of life creators who understand each other’s hardships, self-doubt, and loneliness and offer encouragement and support. Yet, instead out of this very vulnerable and life-changing experience some chose to prop themselves up by putting down others. Breast vs bottle, co-sleep vs crib, maternity leave vs SAHM, organic food, spotless homes, exercise regimens…there are so many ways we divide and classify ourselves with great similarity to the lunch table cliques of our youth.
Upperclassmen. The “sophomore” moms have a couple years of experience in the world of motherhood. They are great because they sort of remember the sleepless nights, know about the current baby gadgets that will literally change your life, and their life still revolves around the dynasty of a tiny child. Juniors have put in more years parenting and may have more than one child. They know that what works for one baby may not work for the second, and similarly what worked for them may not work for you. They can offer advice and support without the judgement that comes with new mommy insecurity.
Seniors. These seasoned moms have it all together. Their kids are getting ready to enter high school themselves, and they are off on their own more and are preparing to graduate to empty-nester. These moms miss everything fondly: the grocery store tantrums, the splattered baby food, even that exhausting baby cry at 3pm each day. None of it will last and they know that all too well. These moms have succeeded in raising up tiny humans PLUS they will rock and snuggle your baby endlessly giving you a much needed break to take care of that forgone shower business.
BFFs. Think back to that day wondering how you would ever conquer algebra, imagine walking into your new classes and realizing disappointedly that you didn’t know any of the other students. As a new mom, that’s just another day at the park (playgroup, library, moms club etc.) Every Laverne needs a Shirley, every Rory needs Lane. Your pre-mommy friends are amazing, they knew you before you were a mom which will become both vital and hilarious with time. But they do tire of hearing how long since you have showered, how many times baby spit up today, and they are operating on a full night’s sleep which means they talk too fast and too coherently for you to keep up at this stage. For the first three months post-partum my vocabulary reverted back to basic primal sentences. I marvel at anyone who pretended to comprehend me.
Your new mommy BFF is key to maintaining sanity at this critical stage. As 13-year-old BFFs analyze nail polish colors, you two will analyze baby poo varieties- yellow? That happens? Your slow-paced, sleepless dialogue interrupted by baby cries will volley back and forth like a disastrous tennis match. As you head home you will remember fragments of thoughts cut off mid-sentence like stray tennis balls littering the court. And you will smile because you know that you are not crazy and you aren’t alone.
Superlatives. You are the Best Mom for your child, God chose you and only you to have this role, so accept that and own it as if it were printed under your name in the yearbook. This is a much greater award than best hair or class clown. Trust the decisions you make, pray for wisdom, continue to love unconditionally, congratulate yourself on your successes, and accept grace for your mistakes. You brought life into the world and you deserve to celebrate like you just aced your first final.