Letter to an Overwhelmed Mother of One
Dear Overwhelmed Mother of One,
I’m going to tell you a short story. It starts when I had my first daughter, which oddly enough, is when lots of my stories start. I was like many first time moms, completely overwhelmed. My baby cried, my body was a mess, my house was a mess, and my husband seemed to handle it so well. How dare he! I, on the other hand, couldn’t handle anything more than slip-on shoes.
At the time, we lived in a two bedroom apartment. We had a good friend and neighbor that lived a few doors down and she had three young children in the same small apartment. I couldn’t figure out how she handled it. She was so calm. If kids were running around me like that, I was sure I would lose my mind. She was calm and happy and calm. Did I mention she was calm? When I told her I didn’t think I could do what she did, she smiled and said, “You’ll figure it out.”
Funny thing, five years later I was that mother. Three small kids in a two bedroom apartment and I DID figure it out. I was happy. I wasn’t calm like her. I never did figure that one out.
But for so long I felt guilty at my…overwhelmedness. I mean, it was only one small baby that didn’t even move yet. Why couldn’t I get it together? I saw so many moms with broods of children and they were so…together. How did they do that?
I even saw other first time moms and they seemed to have it more together than I did. Some of that, I am sure, was my own warped perception. Do not compare what you see in others to yourself. You will always compare their strengths to your weaknesses.
Maybe you are seeing those moms on their best days. Maybe on the inside they’re freaking out. Maybe they’re thinking the same thing about you!
Later, when I found myself pregnant with our second child, I couldn’t imagine how I was going to manage two kids. And then we had a third, I was sure there was no way I could handle that. Then we had our fourth, and you know what? I figured it all out. It wasn’t pretty and it was sometimes painful, but I managed and so will you.
I learned that the exact number of kids you have is the exact number it will take to overwhelm you.
One baby is all it takes to question your sanity, your ability to be a parent, your ability to put on anything other than sweatpants. (I even put those on backwards once and didn’t realize it until the afternoon.) When or if you decide to have another, you will be completely overwhelmed with two and you’ll wonder how you are ever going to manage it. Three will seem impossible. But if you find yourself adding another…you’ll figure it out.
You’re going to make it.
Things will get better.
You will figure it out.
Mom of Four