You, you there in spit-up stained sweatpants, bloody chapped nipples and tears streaming down your face. Yes, you, the single mom with a newborn. I promise it gets better. I have been where you are. I have gone days without sleep, and not figuratively speaking, I mean actual sunsets and sunrises with my eyes open. I have gone days without eating and much much longer than I care to admit without showering. I have bargained cars and ice cream for dinner to a screaming 2 week old who knew not what I was saying, nor why I was yelling. I have covered my ears and squeezed my eyes shut while chanting, “LALALA I CAN’T HEAR YOU LALALA,” over and over again like a 4 year old throwing a tantrum as my innocent infant cried on the bed next to me. So believe me when I tell you that it gets better, it actually does.
I understand that right now you feel like you have no idea what you’ve gotten yourself into. That you feel as though you are sinking in quicksand and there’s no one to pull you out. I understand why you are pushing away help, because, you naively think that you “have to be able to do it by yourself.” I know that the guilt of being a single mom compounds daily and you question your worth, your sanity, and your ability to be the amazing mom you always dreamt of being. Right now you feel like a failure despite each and every person you encounter calling you “Super Mom.”
Newsflash, mama, you are Super Mom. The newborn months are hard on every family and you are doing it by yourself. You are surviving the hardest part, and you’re doing so with only the resources you’ve developed on your own. You cackle when people offer the tired and repetitive advice such as “nap when the baby naps” or “the laundry can wait.” If you nap when the baby naps, you’ll never eat and you’ll run out of clothes and dishes for everyone. You have no one to do laundry, even if only a load for your baby’s stuff. You know they just don’t understand what it’s like to have to raise a baby alone. How could they?
Well I know because I’ve been there. About 3 days after I had been with my newborn on my own, I videochatted my mom at 11:30 p.m. while my son was screaming in a baby carrier strapped to my chest. As I swayed back and forth begging my baby to sleep, my mom was more concerned with me. My eyes and cheeks were sunken in, she could tell I was on the verge of tears myself and said to me calmly, “it’s ok you can let it out.” At which point I bowed my head and let the tears stream. I thought I was holding it together, but apparently I wasn’t fooling anyone. She got on the next flight out and came to help me. Not help me care for the baby but help me care for me because that’s what I wasn’t doing, and it’s probably not what you’re doing either.
I can tell you to take time for you, but I know the reality is that you can’t right now. What I can tell you is that this is temporary. The hardest parts are right this second and the good news about that is that it gets easier. It gets better and you’ll look back on these tired moments and wonder how in the world you made it through, but you will make it through.
Hold on tight to the good moments and dream about baby giggles and tiny smiles. Sneak a protein bar when you have a chance and get outside. The sunlight will do you, your mood and your child some good. Take all the usies you can squeeze in, and, a hygiene hack, bring your baby in the shower with you. They will enjoy the warm water and steam and you won’t feel disgusting for the next 24 hours. Remember that this is only temporary and it’s hard because it’s new, but it gets better.
I’m always here for you if you need to chat or vent or cry or hear how awesome you are.
With all the love and understanding you need,
A fellow single mama