Jon 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. But 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. And 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. And 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.
I had no idea so much freedom could be found in such a short phrase. I wish I had claimed those words sooner. So, in the spirit of paying it forward, I offer the same words to you: take your time, mama.
I hope every mom will embrace it, but especially you new mamas. 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. So, 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 yours is the only voice 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. It’s a process 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, stronger, fiercer, more loving and more capable than you ever knew. But going through that – whew. So take your time.
Understand that the moments of frustration and feeling overwhelmed are just that – moments. Though they don’t feel like it, they are just as fleeting as the moments of bliss. Babyhood is the land of phases; nothing (good or bad) lasts forever. So take your time, and 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.
And 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.
Remember that 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.