When I see you in the store with your new bundled blessing, I guarantee I’ll smile. I’ll look you right in your love filled eyes and tell you your little one is beautiful. I’ll comment on the baby’s hair or eyes or lips, whichever feature jumps out and grabs me, making my insides crave that newborn stage again. I’ll gladly hold your little one if you offer and talk to the babe the way I did mine when he was little.
I’ll nod in understanding while you tell me of the ease of the delivery or the difficulty you had. I’ll ask you how you’re doing and genuinely listen to your answer. It’s not been so long ago my son was new I don’t remember those first few weeks and everything they entail. I’ll laugh a little with complete understanding when you say you’re tired and remind you to sleep when you can. I’ll stress the importance of taking care of yourself, both for you and your little one. I’ll smile when you tell me your mom’s been there to help.
“That’s great,” I’ll say.
Then I’ll quickly change the subject to ask how the baby’s sleeping. I might ask you what brand of bottles you decided to go with. I might even excuse myself from our conversation, suddenly remembering I need to dishwashing liquid from the other end of the store. I promise I’m not being rude. I just don’t want you to see my smile start to fade and my eyes begin to water. I don’t want you to think it’s something you did or said to cause it.
It’s not you, it’s me.
I just can’t relate to your experience. I don’t know what that’s like. My mother was unable to be there for me. I lost her nearly a decade before I myself became a mother. So I have no stories to share with you or memories to reminisce about. I only wish that I did.
My child will never know my mother as the Nana she wanted to be. He won’t ever taste her banana pudding or divinity candy at Christmas time. He won’t hear her sing off key with the choir during Sunday morning service. He won’t ever beg to spend the night at her house because she doesn’t enforce bedtime like I do.
It’s not in the cards for me and mine. I’ve accepted this truth and am beyond grateful for all the wonderful people I was fortunate to have in my life to help me find my way. I can’t adequately express the gratitude I have for each and every person that called to check on me or dropped by the house to welcome my baby to the world. I will never forget the acts of kindness I was showered with.
There was a void no one could fill, though. There was an empty seat where I wanted my mother to be. There were hugs I longed for, pieces of advice I needed, and joys I desperately wanted her to share in. Those first few weeks of parenthood were the most loved filled days I’ve ever lived in my life, but they were also the loneliest.
I’m genuinely happy you have your mother to guide you through the twists and turns of the newborn weeks. I’m ecstatic you don’t have to go it alone. I know how hard it is to forge a path through the rows of motherhood and I’m beyond thrilled you have someone to share those first smiles, cries, laughs, and sleepless nights with. Truly, I am.
At the mention of the mother you love, I can’t help but remember the one I’ve lost. I can’t help but feel the loneliness all over again and I don’t want you to see. Forgive me while I excuse myself. Allow me to make my get away before the tears begin to flow. Pretend you have somewhere to be or smile back when I tell you I do.
Above all else, ignore the shadow of sadness that falls on my face when I tell you how great it is you have your mother to help you before I say my goodbye. This is the purest sentiment I can offer you. It’s all I know to say.
I really mean it, too, even if the expression on my face says I don’t.