I have no idea what I thought that motherhood was going to be like. It's one of those things that you just can't quite envision fully, so you put on our rosy colored glasses and proceed through your pregnancy. And then you have a baby and you bring it home and things go well for a while....and then you have your meltdowns. Yes, mommyhood is practically a minefield of firsts and meltdowns and the learning curve is steep.
A friend of mine told me, just a couple days after I arrived home from the hospital, that I needed to not be afraid to cry. As she put it, "Let it go!" Yes, I made a Frozen reference. Well, she made a Frozen reference. Hey, we're moms here--fair game. But I have to say that it was some of the best advice I got. When I felt the first urge to cry, my inclination was to hold it back, but instead, I let the tears flow and (to my surprise) I actually felt a little bit better. It also opened the floodgates because, believe it or not, that was the moment I realized that I have been holding back a lot of tears for a lot of years.
I love my daughter. New moms love their children immeasurably. But with those little bundles of joy come a lot of hard realities to face. There's the fact that a person is now depending on you. There is the lack of sleep with even the best sleeping babies. There is the breastfeeding, which you get the hang of, but is still overwhelming because you are someone's food source. There's a loss of the autonomy you once knew and no matter how "okay" with that you are, it's just still hard. The lows are tempered with the highs, of course, making the whole thing an emotional roller coaster like no other. Some days I feel like super mom, other days I feel like super shit.
Couple all of those things with the fact that we are sent these messages that we are supposed to be overwhelmingly happy all the time, and it's the perfect storm. Which is why, as my friend told me in the beginning, we have to be willing to acknowledge when we need to cry or have a release of emotion. Because there will be a night where your baby cries for four hours straight instead of sleeping and nothing you do can soothe her. There will be the day when your husband innocently goes for a run just like he does each day and you feel insanely jealous of all his "alone time." There will be the day when you just need to cry for, I don't know, like, 8 hours straight (give or take).
And when that day comes, you have to call your good friend. No matter how tired you are, that day you need to pick up the phone and call her. She will come to you, and she will hold your baby while you sort through your pre-maternity wardrobe. She'll help you decide which clothes definitely can't be put back in the closet. She will talk to you about something other than babies and make sex jokes with you. And then, she will break out the most perfect shade of sea foam green nail polish and force you to sit down and paint your nails while you baby sleeps and you will feel like a person again.
When she leaves, you will realize that you no longer feel on the verge of tears and looking down at the first properly polished nails you've had in months, you will be so grateful. Because sometimes all you need to feel sane again is a good friend and some nail polish. So don't be afraid to ask or to reach out. Letting go in necessary, and you've got to have it in you to fall apart. But don't forget about the people waiting on the sidelines to help you piece it all back together, either!