I’m a new mom to a beautiful little girl. (Well, not so new—five months in.) People say a lot of things to new moms, I’ve learned.
“How are you sleeping?”
“Cherish every moment.”
“Just wait until…”
There’s one in particular though that I just can’t shake. It’s this: “Can you imagine life without her now?” Or a different version: “Can you even remember life before her?”
When it’s asked, I pause. I know what they mean: babies are amazing, being a mom is amazing. A baby changes your life beautifully and completely. So I give the answer they want to hear.
“No, I can’t,” I say, with the widest smile I can manage.
But to be honest, there’s something that doesn’t quite sit right. Because I do. I do remember life before her.
I remember the mornings in bed, talking for hours.
I remember the weekends at our favorite restaurants.
I remember reading and thrifting and DIY project-ing to my heart’s content.
The thing is, I loved my life before her.
But with that question, I get the sense it’s not right for me to feel this way. I have a beautiful, healthy baby. She is a wonder and a miracle and a gift. I should be filled with gratitude and joy at her arrival and my subsequent new life.
And I am. I’m so grateful and so happy. But am I not allowed to also mourn the loss of my pre-baby life? The season of our marriage where we discussed interesting things and went to the movies? When we made last-minute plans and had great sex?
I am both over the moon with our little girl and a little sad at the loss of our old life. I want to be allowed to feel both of those things at the same time.
Motherhood is complex—there’s a lot of both/and. We need to give each other space and permission to feel our complex feelings.
So let’s relax on the clichés. Instead, let’s promote open-ended questions: “How are you doing? What’s amazing? What’s challenging?” And when the clichés come (because come they will), let’s not be afraid to insert a little honesty.
The next time someone asks me if I can even remember life before my baby, here’s what I’ll say.
“You know, I do, actually. I loved my life before her. But I love it now, too.”
And we can go from there.
About the Author
Amber is a freelance writer and editor living in Minneapolis, Minnesota. You can find her thoughts on intentional living, faith, and books at http://www.alternativegrace.com/ and @alternativegrace on Instagram.