Lately, I’ve been talking to a lot of new mothers who feel so much pressure to have it all together and don’t feel safe expressing how overwhelming it can be to have a child. If you have a new baby, and youíre feeling like you have no clue how to be a mother, youíre SO not alone. When my daughter Siena was born, I felt so unraveled by her, as if she could see right through me to all my insecurities. I wrote this in my journal when she was just a wee one, so if you or someone you love has a new baby, this post is for you…
Stop staring at me, like you can see inside me, peel me like a tangerine, dismantle my muscles one by one, crack open my ribcage and see my quivering, shy heart. Stop gazing at me with those opalescent eyes and your X-ray tell-all vision that sees through every steel wall I erect. Stop, Siena. I donít like it.
But you donít listen to me. You lay there, a pink, swaddled prodigy with the white fluffy cat-eared hat that barely fits your enormous head, rubbed almost bald on the back of your head, even though we turn you from side to side to avoid it. You keep staring, with your cornflower blue eyes, as if you know every secret, every vulnerability, every mistake Iíve ever made.
Youíre an old soul — I can tell, but how do you know so much already?† Youíre only one week old. But oh, little one, youíve had to go through so much already. Your Papa telling me he wanted to go meet God on the day you were born.† You, absorbing your Nanaís tears into your warm, pink baby skin that smells like spring.† You, sleeping bare skin to bare skin against your Daddyís chest, nourished by a sort of paternal nursing.
And me, then thereís me, so broken and humbled and driven to my knees with the certainty that I have no clue how to be a mother.† And you know this already. I can tell.† You can see right through me, and we have no secrets, even though I wish I could shelter you from my raw, bleeding pain and the deluge of my insecurity.† I will never be a good enough mother.† I will never be the mother my mother was to me.† And you can†tell, looking through me with your wise guru gaze.
I have nothing to give.
When I was your age, my mother had been a mother her whole life, she knew it like she knew her fingers and her toes.† It was never something outside of herself.† It WAS her.† But Iím not like her.† I look at you and your wise little eyes and your downy feather hair and your pink tulip lips and your perfect little monkey toes that grasp everything that comes their way.† And I feel like a blank.† I have no idea what to say to you, how to touch you, how to sing the right lullabye, how to help you navigate this world I donít understand.† I envision years of birthday candles and Goodnight Moon and Barbie dream houses, but I donít know how to teach you to make the perfect wish, learn from the books you read, and imagine a life better than Barbieís.