Tuesday, November 19, 2013
No One Tells You That It's Lonely
I remember sitting at home with my newborn and wondering when I'd hear a knock at the door. Wondering when my phone would ring. Wondering how much longer I would have to wait for someone to come visit. I had imagined having to turn people away because so many would want to come share in the joy of new life. I imagined casseroles would appear as if by magic because folks would be overwhelmed with the urge to show their love for me and my babe with homemade meals. I awaited the arrival of the masses with bated breath.
No one came that day.
Many days no one came.
I know many people advocate for dropping casseroles on the doorstep with a soft knock and rushing away like a game of doorbell ditch. Or leaving the new mom alone unless you plan on bringing takeout and vacuuming and washing all the poo stained laundry. Or letting the family adjust for those first few months without intruding.
And I understand why people say these things. It's overwhelming, having this new tiny person to take care of. Your house is so messy and you aren't really eating anything that isn't brought to your doorstep and you feel self conscious about the fact that you live in your husband's sweatpants and your shirts are all stained with breast-milk. Who wants a friend who brings nothing to the table coming over for a visit at a time like this?
Well, I did quite frankly, and no one came. In the first four months only four friends bothered to stopped by. I remember each visit fondly because I was so longing for adult interaction during those long difficult days spent alone with a newborn. I wanted someone to talk to. I wanted someone to hold my baby to give my arms a break. I wanted someone to show me that just because I was a mom I didn't cease to exist in their world.
No one tells you how lonely it can be, becoming a mother. You spend your pre-baby days surrounded by your peers and all anyone can talk about is how excited they are for you and your babe. How they can't wait to meet your little bundle of joy. You feel like you've got this tribe, this community that's going to have your back from the moment your child comes wailing into the world.
Then suddenly you're staring at a wall with a screaming newborn in your arms and there's no one there. And it's the hardest thing in the world trying to figure out who the hell you are when you're all alone like that with no one to remind you that you are still you. When your body is warped and battered, and you can't figure out how to make yourself a grilled cheese sandwich with one hand, and you're overwhelmed by all the highs and the lows and the piles of poo stained laundry.
So yeah, bring the casseroles and takeaway dinners if you can. Clean up the house and do some laundry if you're so inclined. Hold that baby and tell mama to take a shower if you aren't too frightened by the prospect of holding a newborn for an extended period of time.
But show up. Remind her she exists. Tell her that she's loved.
Let her know she's not alone.