I see you there with your crumpled feeding chart on one side, black ink pen bleeding through the small boxes as you colour, check and cross. Mind spinning moment to moment as you wonder if he will eat, wake or sleep. You’re tired but so on top of things, you can’t sleep during the day. Your mind is busy, wandering from one thing to another, muscles pulled taught at all times, and in the moments you have to sit down and rest, your eyes are like a mirror into the world of Facebook, glazing over, one click at a time.
And I want to tell you, you don’t have to be so in control.
Yes, I know everything changed and nothing in your life feels the same anymore. The people you want to be around right now are continents away, the body you depended on is doing some strange things, the time and space you had in marriage disappeared.
You feel like he’s the only thing you can control, be in charge of, the only one you can boss around, you want so badly to be in charge of anything because your own life feels like it is out of your hands. It’s ok for you to tell someone you wish you were somewhere else, that you wish for sisters, friends, people who would just come over and bring you food, clean your kitchen.
You don’t have to be so in charge, you can let down your guard, let people in. Tell someone you’re tired, tell someone you’re juggling so many balls that you feel dizzy.
I see you making complicated meals, rushing around chopping bread and parsley, moulding dumpling balls and wondering if it will cook properly all while feeding a baby, laying him down to look at animals, rocking him to sleep and repeat. You’re trying to live your old life and making your son fit around it.
I see you trying to be a good wife, always listening to your husband, trying to do the things that people told you a good wife does after a baby has been born. He’s not like that, you know. He wants you to be well, when he asks, How are you? at dinner, it’s because he wants to know, not the edited version, but all of it, the tears, the fears, the questions, the frustrations. He wants to help you.
If you would just talk to him, he would tell you to stop doing everything, he would tell you not to have it all together, he would tell you to just rest, live in the season. If you let him in, he would have been grace and freedom to you. Vulnerability is a door that opens to grace, and grace is the door that opens to freedom. You need all of it right now.
You don’t have to be such a grown up.
People tell you how “together” you seem, like everything is normal, like you just picked up from birth on and kept moving, You seem so natural at this, they say, and you smile back. But you’re wondering every day, Am I doing the right thing? Am I succeeding at this? Am I loving him enough, spending enough time with him? Learning to love your son is opening a new space in your heart, and you feel like a child again, desperately in need of parenting yourself.
You miss your parents, badly, even though they have changed, you have changed, you still want to go back to that place where you have a pink, polka-dotted layer skirt and pig tails. You’re in Lipa City, wearing flip flops and dusty, walking to a sari sari store for Royal Tru Orange in a plastic bag with a straw. Someone else was taking care of you. Someone else was making all the decisions.
The early days are crazy days, kiddo. You feel at once a child and a mother, navigating heart changes and nappy changes. Slow down a bit. Drop a few balls or all of them. Put down the feeding chart.
Eat chocolate. Pray. Sleep. Take a shower. Repeat.