The last two and a half months of the year were hard. Hard like the way people describe the first of couple months with a newborn – sleep-deprived, self-doubting, I-just-want-a-break hard. It started when Leila caught a virus, exactly in the middle of October, and it ended shortly after I realized what was even happening, on the eve of a new year. In the middle of it all was some teething and a stomach bug and a cold and not much sleep at all and tantrums that would start shortly after a too early wake-up and just did not end until bedtime. It was nothing catastrophic, just enough accumulation of the more difficult combined with not enough of the stuff that makes it easier.
Maybe it was because it was so unassuming, the hard snuck up on me. But one morning in Costa Rica, as I looked down at Leila playing sweetly knowing this is exactly when I would reconnect with that deep-seeded joy and gratitude at any other moment, I just felt tired. I wanted a beach vacation with lots of sleep and yoga and juice and SOLITUDE.
One of the most succinct, helpful comments we got before Leila was born was from our pediatrician. He told us that we would have good days and we would have hard days. And though the latter rarely happened for me then, it felt as if they were every other day more recently. He told us something else. He told us that the first two months were about survival. More than anything I love this advice because it is nice to have permission to not love every second.
I remember being in the first couple months of Leila’s life and chatting with a mother that had just crossed the two-month threshold and feeling the most intense empathy from her and her leaving me with the encouragement that it gets better. I appreciated it, but the truth was I felt life could not get any better. I loved it. I got a lucky break.
…but I needed to hear something like it again. I needed permission to not love every second.
Thankfully I have really smart, empathetic friends. And when we met at the start of the year, and I shared how hard it had been, they completely got it. And they told me to get sleep. And they told me to take breaks. And they told me to set boundaries. And they told me it would get better.
And it did.