Being a new mom is hard. There’s feelings – so many feelings. And those of us that also happen to be go-getters (gawd, do I hate the “Type-A” label), well – we put a lot of pressure on ourselves to do it “right.” Last time, for me, that meant hosting all sorts of family members and staying up with my infant and round-the-clock breastfeeding. I cleaned my house compulsively. I was not at all doing it “right.”
I read this article on Happiest Home yesterday: 5 Unexpected Ways to Help a New Mom. There’s a story of a new mom hiding out in her bedroom – that was me. Even though people were doing nice things for me, I was overwhelmed and adrift. I didn’t know what I needed – didn’t know or couldn’t ask. Looking back – I think I did ask a few people for help, but other than K, none of us seemed to get it. Part of it was first baby problems, C^3 was the first infant to hit the streets in this family in twenty-two years. We didn’t know what to do.
This time, I’m taking it into my own hands. While I’ll probably spend the same amount of time sweeping, which will be about a 100% increase from how much I sweep now, I am planning on asking for what I need: specifically. No, I don’t need new onesies for a shower gift, but I would like the gift of maid service. No, I don’t need you to come over and hold the baby, I need you to come over and visit with me. Thank you for bringing me dinner, would you mind loading the dishes in the dishwasher?*
Sounds really… petulant, huh? Spoiled? Maybe. But it’s also going to be my way of avoiding the crush of overwhelming feelings that I have to service everyone’s connection to the new soul I’m birthing. I’ve got a plan – and instead of waiting for help I’m asking for it – planning for it. I’m hiring people. [Side note: one of my friends told me that was the hallmark of true adulthood. For years we spend our energy turning time into money. At some point, you've got to start turning money into time. Smart, very smart.] I’m asking myself, “Self, what do you need today?”**
And I am so looking forward to my maternity leave. I know some moms dread the time off work – or get antsy, but I loved it. It felt like a long vacation that was so overdue. I hope I enjoy it as much this time around.
*Several times family member brought over dinner, which was lovely. But they’d proceed to leave all the dishes all around for me to clean up. Nope, not hosting any parties over here.
**Today, that totally meant a giant slice of pizza. Okay, if I’m being honest, two giant slices of pizza.