“The moment a child is born, the mother is also born. The woman existed before, but the mother–never. A mother is something absolutely new.” -Unknown
I can’t recall holding a newborn before I held my own. Both my husband and I are the oldest children, and we were on the “early side” with most of our friends in having children. Like most new moms, I read books, asked questions and tried my best to be prepared. However, that brand new tiny baby scared me to death. Instant love and terror were intertwined in my heart despite a relatively calm outward appearance.
Then came the newborn trenches. I remember it well. I was a sleep-deprived, overly caffeinated, anxious new mommy worrying about everything. Was I doing _____ right? Was she eating enough? Was she sleeping enough? Was she crying too much? You name it, I worried about it. Then my mom said a simple, yet profound statement: “You just need to find a new normal.”
Little did I know that every new normal only lasts about two seconds with a newborn before you’re right back to needing a new normal again. But overall, she was exactly right.
While finding a new normal might be easier said than done, it was a paradigm shift in my mind that helped me cope with the thousands of changes happening all at once. Seven years later, one infant sounds like a piece of cake compared to the wild ride of having three kids, but at the time, a newborn was a monumental shift in life as I knew it. A new chapter of life had begun. There was no turning back.
A friend once told me that it’s okay to “grieve” a previous life stage because it allows you handle current and future life stages. Permission to grieve was kinda liberating. I had to say goodbye to the freedom of my college and newlywed years and understand that it was okay to miss those days.
Pining away for your old normal only impedes your ability to find joy in today. But actually putting this idea into practice might be the hardest lesson of all. I wish I had a fancy three step process or ten suggestions to make the transition easier, but I don’t. If we were having coffee, I would pat your arm, nod in understanding, and say that I don’t have it figured out either.
Sometimes that truth can be hard to swallow. In the midst of life changes on any scale, you have to find a way to find a new normal. And that looks different for everyone.
Every life change takes TIME, and learning to be patient with yourself is the hardest part of all. I must confess that I feel so discouraged and overwhelmed when something goes wrong or not as planned. But those seemingly insignificant, mundane, difficult moments with a steep learning curve begin to re-wire your brain and ultimately transform you. We MUST allow ourselves grace for the time it takes to undergo change. Grace for the new mom. Grace for the mom going back to work. Grace for the stay-at-home mom. Grace for the mom with kids starting school. Grace for any new life stage.
Time is your best friend with a newborn because they won’t stay that way forever (obviously). And time is your best friend in finding a new normal.