I have a good friend I have recently reconnected with. She is four years older than I am, but was a huge inspiration to me when I was in high school and she was one of the biggest reasons I went to Mount Holyoke College (where I got to meet Amy...). Anyway, we have reconnected through the bonds of parenthood as she recently had her first baby. He is a wonderful little bundle and she loves him with an intensity only a mother can understand. Of course, there are difficulties, as there usually are. He is a fairly high-needs baby and she is very much a goal-oriented, in-control kind of person (as you would have to be to have a PhD in toxicology!). Sometimes these two things don't necessarily match! As any experienced mom knows, peace and harmony is usually far more easily accomplished when you can just let go of control and follow your baby. As any first-time mom knows, this is far, far, far easier said than done! And haven't we all been there? Haven't we all had that moment at 2 in the morning when your dear one just won't go back to sleep and you can't think beyond the next 5 minutes, never mind the next week or month or year? Haven't we all snapped at our husbands for [insert silly reason that didn't seem silly at the time here]? Grumpily hung out in our pjs all day because the baby just won't be put down? Felt (*gasp*) resentful towards our child for needing us so? I know I have. Sure, you might admire my parenting now...but you weren't there during those many, many nights after Megan was born and I couldn't believe we had ever thought having two children was a good idea. You weren't there for the umpteenth discussion over finances and why we needed yet another baby carrier in our collection ("Maybe this one will stop her from crying!"). You weren't there for the moments that I can't even repeat because it is so painful to put myself back into those feelings of complete inadequacy and resentment towards my child.
So, anyway, here is this new mom, a thousand miles away, struggling through these completely normal feelings of exhaustion, resentment, exhaustion, lack of control, exhaustion, and overwhelming love, and all I can do is talk her through her roughest moments. Like the other day. It was 8:30 in the morning. Megan had just managed to get off to school, Chris to work, Evan was in his one-piece-footed pjs with no diaper on, Erin was on the couch reading. All at once, just after the door shut behind Megan and Chris, Evan yelled, "I POOPED!" I turned around and yes, he had pooped...in his pjs. As I'm getting him out of those (which, of course, got poop on the floor), I realize it would just be easier to put him in the shower. He gets in there, Erin yells, "I'm starving!" to which I reply that she will have to fix that herself as I'm busy cleaning up poop. Chris and Megan come rushing back in and out again (I have no idea what they forgot) and--you guessed it--the phone rings. "Hi, Aimee!" she says, "Is this a good time to chat?" I looked around me. "Of course it is! I've got one kid fixing her own breakfast (which I'll clean up after later), a two-year-old in the shower, poop on the floor and a substantial amount of poop in his pjs! But what's up???" She just started to laugh. Her next sentence? "Thank you, Aimee, you made my day!"
We talked a bit more and then I went back to cleaning up poop and she went back to soothing a fussy baby. Obviously I didn't do much for her, other than to reassure her that someday she, too, would have poop all over her floor (she can't wait!).
It gets easier...with time and with more kids, it simply gets easier. But just like you would never tell a mom who has just had a loss that things get easier with time, it does no good to tell a new mom how much better things will get. Because when you are in that moment, it just doesn't matter how much better it will get eventually, you simply need to survive now. And I understand that, my friend, I truly do. So call anytime. And if you ever need poop on your floor, I'm pretty sure Evan is equal to the task.