Last weekend my Dad was in town for a visit. The girls were in heaven, and my husband I got to sleep in and take some very rare time for ourselves. We were all out for lunch and I took my youngest into the bathroom for a diaper change. There was a woman in there with her 6 week old baby spread out on the bathroom countertop. No change tables. I admired the baby and asked the woman how it was all going. She looked up and paused. I recognized the look in her eyes. "Nobody told me it was going to be this hard" she said. My heart went out to her. "It gets easier, I promise" I said. Tears started rolling down her cheeks. "My Mom is leaving today".
This is how I found myself locked in a hug with a complete stranger in a public bathroom on a Saturday afternoon. I felt the overwhelming need to comfort this woman (I still don't know her name) and to let her know that I understood. We both live in LA. Her Mom lives in London and had been with her for the past 6 weeks. My Mom lives in Toronto and had been with us for a month during the birth of my first daughter in NY. I will never forget the day we had to say goodbye, on the corner of 15th St. and 7th Ave. The horrible rushed goodbye that happens as a taxi waits impatiently on the curb. I'm crying as I write this because I'm remembering how much I needed my Mom then - how empty it felt that she couldn't just stay and never leave. I hadn't needed my Mom so much since I was a little girl and was completely dependent on her. I hadn't realized the immense responsibility of motherhood. Nobody told me how hard it was going to be either.
This is one of my favourite pictures - My Mom arriving in NY for the birth of my second daughter. I love this picture because mere hours after it was taken I became a Mother all over again. Nothing could have prepared me for the road I was about to go down, and this picture captures a sweet, calm moment before everything changed.
I think sometimes we are afraid to express our struggles as Mothers. Somehow we are supposed to have it all together and make it look easy. I've realized that I don't often express how difficult I find things - I will talk about it sometimes with my husband or my Mom. For some reason I don't feel comfortable admitting when I'm overwhelmed, or accepting the help of others. I'm slowly learning to let go of this. I'm trying to listen more to myself.
There are so many decisions to make when it comes to our children, and so many 'hot topics' - birth, vaccinations, schooling, screen time - that can divide us and cause us to judge and label each other. But no matter what you choose for your children, we are all just trying to do our best and to do what we believe to be best for our kids. We all struggle and get overwhelmed, we all know what that feels like. My experience in the bathroom this past weekend has made me want to reach out to all the Moms I know and surround myself with this collective energy. We Moms need to talk more and share our stories and our struggles more. We need to give each other hugs and let each other know that none of us are alone. We all get it.