I’m at that part in the newborn phase where I start to simultaneously rejoice because I’m sleeping better…and still wish I was sleeping better.
In the earliest weeks with Zoe, motherhood was truly a joyful free for all. I mean. Look at me.
I was thrilled to be a mom, but I couldn’t even hold my head up anymore. I was just so tired. I remember laying on her playmat when she was about five weeks old and sobbing because I just wanted to sleep more than anything.
Riley is a much easier baby than Zoe (there are no pictures of Riley like this…not a one)
but she still isn’t sleeping through the night (although, PRAISE THE LORD, she is not up for 1–2 hours at a time several times a night, screaming the second you stop rocking her at the preferred rocking pace and altitude like a certain someone).
When we began considering a second child, it wasn’t the finances or daytime difficulties that I had to get over. It was my fear of being tired. I literally had nightmares about being that tired again (those nightmares would wake me up, and then my anxiety about this issue would cause insomnia…how meta, right?)
I’m one of those weirdos who loves being at my peak all the time. When I worked full time, I very rarely drank even a glass of wine on work nights because I didn’t want anything to slow down my performance at work. I put my all into my workouts and rest in between them to make sure I get maximum results. I eat for energy. I pay attention to how I work and live and critique myself to make sure that I constantly improve.
Being tired is my nightmare because it puts the brakes on all that. Fatigue makes me forgetful. It makes me want to sit around instead of work. It makes me feel lazy. It makes me crankier. It makes my brain work slower. I’m not at my peak when I’m tired, and the kicker is that no matter how I critique myself or try to push myself…I’m still tired.
For someone who loves game plans and self discipline and results, this is obnoxious.
But mothering the second time around means that everything I’ve learned about living under grace instead of perfectionism is actually internalized, instead of out there waiting to be learned. Mothering the second time around means that I know that this is a phase—that it will take time, but eventually I’ll feel like me again (maybe even a a more badass version of me. I looked for a better non-swear-word descriptor than badass, and there just isn’t one). Mothering the second time around means that I can admit that yes, the middle of the night feedings are obnoxious, but they also create a bond between me, my baby, and God that nothing else could produce.
The first time around, I despised the weakness and tiredness. I loved everything else about being a mom, but I just wanted to be BETTER (faster! stronger!) again.
This time, I’m learning to accept the tiredness not as weakness, but as signs that I am working HARD, getting stronger as a mom and wife, and doing my best, which is all you can ask for from yourself.
I’m learning that I have a choice in how I talk to myself—I can praise myself for what I accomplish despite being tired, which is life-giving, or I can chastise myself for what I still won’t have the energy to accomplish, which is pointless.
I can live in this phase, accepting it as it is and trying to enjoy it for what it is—or I can wish it away anticipating the time when my accomplishments feel easier to measure and achieve.
A certain husband says “we’re done” with kids. I hope I win this debate, but just in case I don’t—I’m going to soak up the weakness and tiredness instead of loathing it.
Because I am mothering the second time around, and so I know:
someday I will miss this tired.