The One Thing I Didn't Realize I'd Miss Most About Being A New Mom
Some days I don’t know where the last five years of my life went. Ever since my son was born, time has sped up considerably. Yet at the same time, it does seem like a lifetime long ago. I can hardly remember holding him as a newborn. I remember the longness of the days, but not the details of each one. My memories feel like old pictures: tattered at the edges, tinged with a coloring not quite the same as reality. Most of the time I feel content in moving forward with our life. Watching my children grow up brings me a joy I never knew possible. But there will always be things I miss about being a new mom, some I didn't actually realize I'd miss.
Many parts of motherhood are scary and unknown when you first enter into this delicate dance of raising a tiny human. It is overwhelming at best and downright terrifying at worst. I don’t miss the panicked feeling that rose in my stomach when I could not get my crying baby to calm down. I don’t miss the difficult rearranging of marriage to accommodate these new and all-consuming roles of mom and dad. I don’t miss the anxiety and the constant fear that there was something I was doing irrevocably wrong at all times. I don’t miss the late nights spent Googling “does my baby have thrush?” Then looking at pictures of thrush. Then thinking, Oh god, I wish I hadn’t looked at pictures of thrush.
Once the feeling of shock over the fact that they just let me walk out of the hospital with this tiny little baby subsides, I was left in complete awe. New motherhood consumed me in so many ways.
Yet outside of the terror and uncertainty that gripped me as a new mother, there were so many wonderful things that I sometimes forget about that fleeting time in my life. Once the feeling of shock over the fact that they just let me walk out of the hospital with this tiny little baby subsides, I was left in complete awe. New motherhood consumed me in so many ways, and such a vast majority of that was breathtaking and beautiful.
I miss the long swaths of time I spent staring at my newborn’s features, gobsmacked that my husband and I had created a person. A real, live, breathing person that I could not begin to explain my love for. It was surreal. I had so much time to simply take him in. His puppy-like sounds, his sporadic movements, his expressions, which were most vibrant when he slept. I forget sometimes, as I rush through the routine of now having three children, what it felt like to soak in infancy with such wild abandon.
I remember those first uncertain moments when our son was placed in his arms, the look that spread across his face when he said, “He’s perfect.” I miss the fumbling of new parenthood, as frustrating as it was, as we learned together the art of diapering and rocking and loving one another all over again.
I miss watching my husband transform before my eyes into someone — something — I had never known before: a father. Now it seems so standard to watch him walk through the door each evening as our kids bombard him with hugs and shrieks, excited to tell him about their everyday adventures. Yet I remember those first uncertain moments when our son was placed in his arms, the look that spread across his face when he said, “He’s perfect.” I miss the fumbling of new parenthood, as frustrating as it was, as we learned together the art of diapering and rocking and loving one another all over again.
The things I miss were these moments tucked into the chaos: imperceptible at the time, but so easy to mourn once they were gone.
I miss the long, lazy days of new parenthood. Though there were times of mind-numbing boredom without adult interaction and plenty of exhaustion from sleepless nights, there were also late afternoon naps with a newborn on my chest, our hearts beating in this fantastic rhythm — his humming-bird heart racing against my slow steady beat. There was time for playing dress up with the fancy clothes he hardly ever wore outside the house. There were DIY photography sessions aplenty and read-aloud chapters of Peter Pan — things my third baby will never have in exchange for the unruly love of two older siblings.
So many of the things I miss about being a new mom I didn’t realize until much later. New motherhood, for all its beauty, was still difficult. Much of the newborn phase boiled down to operating in survival mode. It was too often a time to get through rather than to enjoy. The things I miss were these moments tucked into the chaos: imperceptible at the time, but so easy to mourn once they were gone.
What I miss most about being a new mom isn’t any particular blissful moment. What I miss are the opportunities that passed me by to appreciate that short, precious time more fully. I miss the longs days I begged to be over, the morphing relationship I thought was crumbling, the tedious task of rearranging my life to raise a new human — the things I didn’t know I would miss until they were gone.