Early Days

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This post is for me and a tiny handful of women who’ll read it in their own early days.

“These are early days.”

An older woman said that to me when she saw the tiny feet dangling from my Ergo at the grocery store. Another mom said the exact same thing after smiling at his little body slumped over in my carseat- despite all the support pillows and straps meant to keep him unslumped.

That half-deflated little hacky sack of a person runs my world at the moment.

“Early days” — a phrase for the first few weeks after bringing home a new baby.

You might think those words are supposed to be a comfort. Like … hey, don’t worry, it’s hard now but things will get easier. These are early days. 

But this is my second baby. I’ve seen these early days before and now the phrase carries with it a melancholy twinge because I recognize this feeling. And I suspect those other mothers were talking about the same thing. In early days, mothers see a ghost of ourselves, a little visit from a younger, braver version of us that was at the same time more selfish and also more ready to give everything.

She, of course, cannot stay.

In those first few weeks there’s a rawness of emotion you haven’t allowed yourself to feel in years. Remember how big everything felt before you stopped letting the stakes get too high, before you stopped letting yourself get so riled up about things?

Remember that sickening fear of failure that comes with having the highest hopes for someone? Of loving someone so much yet knowing you’ll surely hurt them somehow, someday, no matter how hard you try not to?  And hating yourself for that. And longing for everything you’ll inevitably ruin before you’ve even ruined it. Sitting in the good pain of big feelings.

I like this window to my old unruly self. I missed her, missed these unwieldy big feelings that grown-ups aren’t supposed to have anymore. And you know what? You won’t understand this… but I even like this pain.

These are early days.

I feel it all leaving me already. I’m afraid my mind is fading this feeling as time passes, the same way people say your brain forgets the pain of childbirth to allow you to have another child someday. (Only I guess forgetting the way we felt in these early days serves to protect us from being permanently immature emotional and eccentric types… so we can step up and be responsible moms and let our children have all the big unwieldy feelings. Makes sense. It’s for the best.)

I wrote this a couple weeks ago and didn’t post it right away and when I read what I wrote now it makes less sense to me. But still I’m posting it now. For myself and the handful of women who’ll read it and get it, because they’re in early days.

Tell her hello.

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