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Tuesday, July 25, 2017

The 4 Words Every New Mama Needs to Hear

Parenthood doesn't come with a driver's test. Or a job application.

A few months back, before the pregnancy, before the baby, basically a lifetime ago, a coworker and I had a sort of dumbfounded realization about parenthood:

"Anyone can do it," we laughed.


It takes a license to drive a car. A degree and four years of education at an acclaimed university (most of the time) to get a career.

But having a kid? It's not really something you need to ask permission for. Or get a degree in.

And if I'm being honest, throughout the first few weeks of motherhood, I wish that there were.

I didn't want anyone to tell me how it was going to be. The stubbornness in my heart and body prefers to fall and make mistakes and discoveries on my own.

But I found myself clinging back to those glory K-12 days. The days of supervision. The days of checks, balances and hand-holding.

The days of someone sitting closely and watching. Someone who knows the authoritative ins-and-outs. Someone to say with conviction: you're doing it right. You make the mark. Level one parenting achieved.

I have been blessed in so many ways. Countless ways. And lately, I've unturned another blessing in my life, having a community of new mothers. At work. At church. From college. From high school. You name it.

And between us we pass a phrase that has become catch-all balm for all the anxieties that creep into our thoughts, either by complete surprise during a late-night feeding or one we've seen coming toward us for weeks:

"You got this, mama."

It's a phrase, I'm learning, like a call and response. A code for, "I don't have the answers, but I'm here. I'm rooting for you. You're not alone."

It's used in a lot of contexts.

I'm burning out on breastfeeding.

You got this, mama.

My kid cries every day from three to seven p.m.

You got this, mama.

I've lost 20 pounds in an unhealthy way, because there never seems to be enough time to nourish my body in its most basic form.

You got this, mama.

My child has been in the NICU for days and all I want to do is hold him.

You got this, mama.

I feel guilty putting my kid down.

You got this, mama.

I'm deathly afraid I won't be able to provide nourishment for my child while I'm at work.

You got this, mama.

It's sort of like saying "bless you" after a sneeze. Or "I'll pray for you" after someone shares a difficult truth about their lives. Except it's so much more. I don't think it would be at all hyperbolic to name it for what it is – a battle cry for the fed-up, the run-down, nervous and incredibly joyful women we've watched ourselves become.

Growing week-by-week in a similar fashion to how we measure our children, into this strange, contradictory, topsy-turvy world of motherhood.

So, for those new mamas, like myself – or for anyone, really, towing the line of "I don't think I can do this anymore" – let me be among the people in your life to tell you that you can. You absolutely can.




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