As I talk with Isabella about her new baby brother or sister, I find myself thinking often about when she was a newborn. I’ve written many times before about the struggles I faced as a new mom, and that wasn’t even a tenth of it. Many of my friends saw me during those days, soul splayed open, raw from the pressure, sleep deprivation having removed what little filter I normally possess. I talked openly about my on-and-off hatred of being a parent, how I would never be good enough, how I wondered if I really loved my child, and most of all, the horribleness of seeing how truly horrible I could be.
I was so angry with our parent friends because no one warned me. No one told me how frighteningly powerful your emotions can be at 3am. No one told me how maddening it is to listen to your child scream continuously in their car seat. No one told me how tired I would be. No one told me how powerless you feel when your child is crying and you can’t. figure. out. why. In the words of Chris Martin, “Nobody said it was easy… no one ever said it would be this hard.”
Today Isabella is nearly 2, and while I still think I’m less suited to be a full-time mom than many of the incredible women I’m blessed to know, I love her dearly and would do it all again for who she is and what we now enjoy. When I think back on the first days and weeks and months with my little girl, what I remember most are the sweet and wonderful things. Not the frustration. Not the exhaustion. Not the guilt.
Now I understand why they didn’t warn me… they forgot. I wish I knew then what I know now: I will forget. I would have spent far less time struggling to be perfect, resenting Isabella, feeling ashamed. I would have more beautiful memories to look back on today. I would have gotten help. I would have held on to the good things and held my mistakes loosely. I would have been humbler, more merciful to myself.
I wish, I wish… but that season is over. I can’t go back and re-live those early days, but I can live today. And I get a chance to do it differently with a new baby. I’m going to be happier this time.