I had two separate conversations over the weekend with two different girlfriends that are still lingering with me, several days later.
The first involved a dear friend getting ready to have her first baby. As she sat across the table from me over breakfast, she asked, “so, I only have a handful of weeks left till this baby comes. Anything I need to be doing? Not doing? Making sure I have?”
Ash was sitting on my lap and I abruptly squeezed her a bit too hard. What a million dollar question. And how in the world do you answer that?
Because how do you say, “you should be doing everything, and at the same time, absolutely nothing” and it make sense?
How do you say, “never forget that moms make shit happen,” and it even mean anything to her right now, even though you know those four words on repeat in your head are sometimes the only reason you’re able to actually make anything happen on any given day?
In comparing the two times I’ve given birth, I was two completely different women. I wanted different outcomes. I prepared differently. I talked to myself differently. Everything was different save the outcome of a healthy, beautiful baby. Which woman did she want advice from?
What was she really asking?
I didn’t know, so I told her to get a prenatal massage. Not just any prenatal massage. I told her to find someone who specializes in prenatal massage and make an appointment. Now.
Solid, safe advice.
Fast forward to that evening, and the conversation I had with girlfriend #2. This friend of mine and I have a long, bumpy history. We’ve known each other since we were kids and have been close for maybe a decade, save a few years here and there where we let immaturity and pride get in the way of resolving conflict.
When she announced she was pregnant with her daughter, we were in the middle of one of those “off years.”
Nothing about our lives resembled each others and the loss of things in common had kind of driven us apart, as is so common with friends as you grow up.
I was fumbling through being back at work with a 14 week old baby and all the insanity that comes from nursing and pumping and pretty much bringing your B game everywhere and praying no one will call you out for it. She was recently divorced and trying to figure out what was next.
As it turned out, what was next was a baby. As a single mom without a lot of friends that had kids.
As a married mom with multiple women I hold dear to me that were also mothers, I still felt like I could barely hold it all together.
I had to reach out to her. I HAD to.
I felt like I HAD to let her know that things were going to be ok. I didn’t know what “ok” would look like, but kids come into your life at all sorts of times that don’t make sense to you at first. And it all works out because moms make shit happen.
Moms. Make. Shit. Happen. (thanks a million times for that gem, Megan.)
Moms show up. They show up for their kids and they show up for each other.
That was 3.5 years ago and we haven’t missed a beat since.
Over the weekend she brought me pretty close to tears thanking me for that outreach. She told me there are moments that she goes to bed at night and doesn’t think she can get up and do it all over again the next day.
She tells herself, “I just can’t.”
If I only had a dollar for all the times I’ve thought that, too.
But she continued, then I go kiss my daughter goodnight or she jumps into my bed in the morning and I’m reminded that I absolutely can. She reminded me that I told her, 3.5 years ago, that every child is a blessing. Her daughter reminds her that she can every. single. day. She’s her blessing.
And that is what I wish I could have expressed to my pregnant girlfriend, and to all women, really, getting ready to enter this crazy world of motherhood for the first time.
You will have SO many moments where you feel like you just can’t.
You will amaze yourself by everything you can do. (on such little sleep…)
It’s not about how you give birth or how you feed your baby or what products you need or don’t need. It’s not about whether you work or stay home or co-sleep or use pacifiers or any of the other bullshit that gets built up about being a mom.
What it is about is reminding yourself, over and over and over, that even when you think you just can’t, that you can.