My husband knows that sometimes I struggle a little in my transition to being a (mostly) stay at home mom. I think he knows this because occasionally I text him things like “OMG WHEN ARE YOU COMING HOME; I’M ABOUT TO LOSE MY MIND” at 2 p.m. on a workday. I’m subtle that way. To combat this, he encourages me to take time for myself regularly, whether that’s to meet friends for dinner or just to escape for a walk alone. Every time I go, he gives me a gift - he tells me, take your time.
I love him so much for giving me those three words. He means them, too. Never once have I gotten a “will you be home soon?” text from him. If I call or text him while I’m out (just to check in, of course), all he will say is that things are fine and for me to take my time. Short of the house catching fire or a trip to the ER, he will not interrupt my time away.
I had no idea so much freedom could be found in such a short phrase. I wish I had claimed those words sooner. In the spirit of paying it forward, I offer the same words to you: take your time, momma.
I hope every mom will embrace it, but especially you new mommas. To the ones home fresh from the hospital with your first tiny little one, take your time. You don’t have to know everything about babies right now … or ever, really. You just have to know yours.
Slow down and get to know her. Memorize the way she smells and how perfectly she fits, nestled against your chest. Watch what she responds to, what soothes her and what agitates her. Don’t miss it when your voice is the only one that she’ll open her eyes and turn her head for. Marvel over her, and take a minute to be downright proud that you made a person.
Get to know yourself as a mom, and your husband as a dad. Be patient – with baby, each other and yourself. Worry not about sleep training, self soothing or getting on a schedule. All of that can come later. In these moments, what matters is that you’re becoming a mom.
I say “becoming,” because I don’t think it’s something that happens the moment your baby arrives. It’s a process; one that can be, simultaneously, the most wondrous and most frustrating thing you’ve ever experienced. You’ll feel more than once like you’re losing your mind … you’re not. You’re losing your pride, your selfishness, your self-centeredness. You’re going to emerge from this refinement a completely different person. You will be stronger, fiercer, more loving and more capable than you ever knew. Going through it, though? Whew. Take your time.
Understand that the moments of frustration and feeling overwhelmed are just that – moments. They don’t feel like it, but they are just as fleeting as the moments of bliss. Babyhood is the land of phases; nothing (good or bad) lasts forever. Just keep putting one tired foot in front of the other. You will leave the house again; you will sleep again; you will be a real, live human again. I promise.
One last thing, momma. Don’t forget, in all of this, to take YOUR time, too. Listen to yourself carefully, and your body will tell you what it needs: a walk in the fresh air, a mindless wander through Target, a trip through the Starbucks drive thru, a shower, a nap. Take it, and don’t feel guilty for it. Even just an hour on your own can bring you back rejuvenated and ready to mom again.
Rushing through the day does not hasten its end. We can’t will time to move forward, nor can we call it back again once it’s gone. So, take your time. It’s only yours to take once.