I wrote this months ago just for myself and am making it public because it may help others too. I highly suggest that new mothers do something similar when times get rough. Even as I’m reading through it right now, I’m thinking “Whoa Andrea, are you sure you want to publish this? You’re seriously being overly dramatic in this part. Tone it down, you didn’t really feel that way. What will people think?!” But as my finger is hovering over the delete button I realize that I’m already forgetting. It is this dramatic to have a newborn, often even moreso than what I describe. B’Ezrat Hashem, if we write to these letters to our future selves, we will be reminded.
Dear future Andrea,
Gd willing, you are a grandmother now.
I want you to remember.
Remember how hard it is. How wonderful, how achingly, indescribably wonderful to have your beautiful newborn baby so dependent. On you. For your toddler, you are his world and he is growing, learning unfathomable amounts each day. He won’t always love you like this. You blink and you miss a moment. You will miss this. So much. As you read this, you are missing it.
There is desperation in my soul as I’m writing to you because I need you to understand. I cannot remember the last time I slept more than two hours in a row. My fingers a delirious blur as I am getting over the flu, being confined to bed for the last two days, spending too much on a babysitter, nearly losing my ability to nurse my three month old who is now battling the same flu. He is now wrapped to my chest in a ring sling, finally sleeping. Wheezing, he cannot nurse because he can barely breathe. I am worried. So anxious. Panicking that I don’t have enough to give. Bouncing on my feet to sooth him. Please don’t wake up. Trying not to faint.
I love this so much. I can’t remember ever being so happy. And I can’t recall ever feeling like I’m going to break so badly. Being so afraid to fail, afraid to fall. Literally, so afraid to fall. And future Andrea, I beg you, please remember this feeling. Remember what it is like.
Please remember what sending a meal meant to you when others did it. Remember how you and your husband held each other and cried, because you love each other more than anything but can’t remember the last time you did something nice just for him. Remember that aching feeling as your toddler nurses before going to bed, not able to distinguish between the feeling of giving or being had, loving and hating it, knowing that you’ll beg Hashem for just a few more minutes with him like this, one day. You no longer know where your body begins and ends. You are theirs right now, and one day you will be yours again and yearn for them to want you like this. Remember the conflict, the joy, the pain.
It won’t last forever. But right now, this is all you know.
And you won’t remember. You’re not supposed to remember.
Because hormones and sleep deprivation are a funny phenomenon. You forget everything that you have forgotten.
But maybe you’ll remember the bills. The house falling apart. The laundry. Rolling into bed only to get up a minute later because if you don’t eat the baby won’t eat. The extended family needs. The photos, more photos, more photos, and feeling like you’re stealing from the rest of them by not taking photos, but you’re stealing a mother from your children with all the time taking and sending the photos. Every minute counts.
Right now as you read this, you have time. Time to remember your promises and keep them. Time for friends, and family. Time to eat well and take care of yourself. Time for the charities, the non profits. Time to learn Torah, to think about your Middot and improve yourself. Time to think about others beyond these four walls.
For me right now time doesn’t exist. I don’t have it, nor do I desire it. Each minute is a moment that I am here and needed. Right now. The rest of the world doesn’t exist beyond these four walls.
There is a time for everything. And when it is your time, future Andrea, to be envious and nostalgic of what I have right now, please remember.