To the New Mom Walking

Hey, you.

Yes, you - the mama at the intersection looking nervously in every direction to make sure all the cars are stopped before you cross the street with the baby stroller you are gripping for dear life.

You, the one pushing your new travel system, which you have covered, but keep peeking under to make sure your brand new, beautiful, most precious piece of cargo is still alive - and sleeping.

You push the stroller back and forth, back and forth, a quiet "shhhh" crossing your lips - unconscious movements and noises. You hope, wish, pray that you can make it to Starbucks and back without the baby waking or screaming.

I know you. We've never met. But I'd recognize you anywhere.

You're self-conscious out here in broad daylight. You wonder if people around you think you look fat, or like a slob in your yoga pants, or if your breasts are leaking. You subconsciously tug your shirt down.

You walk gingerly, still sore from the trauma of delivering a human.

I see you, sneaking your phone under the car seat cover to snap a picture of that sleeping beauty. You're making sure to get some of the sidewalk or sunlight in the photo, to make it known that you're outside, and that you're brave enough to leave the house.

You have a venti coffee in the cup holder, and as you walk, you do so carefully, so as not to spill a drop of your precious caffeine. You're already thinking about when you can have a second cup.

Beneath your sunglasses, your eyes are tired and bloodshot. They still sting from this morning, when for no reason at all - yet for every reason in the world - you burst into tears when your mom called to see how you're doing.

Your hair, piled high in a pony tail, is wet from the shower you took this morning. The first one you've taken in days. The one that lasted a whole three minutes, because even though your little one was sleeping in his Rock 'n Play just outside the bathroom door, you still stuck your head out of the shower every 30 seconds because you swore you could hear him crying.

You're confident from taking a shower. This small victory made it easier for you to put on fresh yoga pants - not the ones you've been wearing the past few days. Cleanliness and accomplishment propelled you out the front door with determination to seize the day.

I know you, Mama. I was you. I am you.

You're tired in a way that you've never known, never knew, was possible. You're overwhelmed, in every sense of the word - with love, responsibility, amazement, uncertainty. You're scared. You have no idea what you're doing. You question every single decision you make. Your Google history would show me everything from "how long can breast milk sit out" to "why is my baby crying." You cry for no reason, sometimes just because you love that baby more than anything.

But outside the walls of your home, being a mom doesn't seem as hard. The day ahead of you, filled with feedings and crying, shushing and soothing, dirty diapers and spit up, doesn't seem as daunting.

You look forward to that baby opening his eyes, so you can talk to him, kiss him, snuggle him. You don't feel like bursting into tears when someone asks you how you are. You don't feel scared at the prospect of taking care of this baby, whom you've only just met and are still getting to know, all by yourself - at least until Dad gets home. In the fresh air and sunshine, you feel like you've got this.

And you should. Because you do. I promise you, despite how unfit for it you feel, you are the best person for this new job you hold. You will find your groove. And while I can't promise you it will get easier, I can tell you on good authority that it does get better.

So keep walking, Mama. You're doing great.

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