To my friend Kristina who is expecting her first baby,
(and to all other first-time mothers)
I cannot presume to give you advice or to know what you will experience when your baby is finally born. Though I have three kids of my own, I am not an expert and I do not have the answers. In fact, having three kids has only taught me that the answer you come to know now may not be the same answer tomorrow.
There are, however, three lessons I learned to embrace as a mother, and these I will share with you in hopes you can look back at this letter and be reminded that you are not alone. I understand what you are going through.
LOVE. Just when you think you knew what love was, you will love like you never loved before. You will learn that the love you have for your baby when he or she is born will far surpass the love you feel for the life growing inside you now. Once your baby is born, you will come to love from an area of your soul you were not even aware existed. And you will worry a lot. Your love will make you worry constantly. You will love this sentient being so much that you will just want to hold and shelter him or her from the world as much and as long as you are able. And to you I write, go ahead and hug your baby tight, kiss your baby constantly, love your baby endlessly, but do not forget to...
LIVE. Do not fret or stress about the little things. As a mother, you will doubt yourself and constantly question whether you are doing what is best for your baby. Others will offer advice - some solicited, some not. You will google every symptom, every difficulty you face, and every question you have which will come at you like a rage of storms. In the end, you will ultimately learn that you will know what's best and that you will instinctively find the answers you seek in time. And while you wait for the answers as you face every challenge, always remember to...
LAUGH. Laugh a lot. Even during those days when you are not sure you can take much more of the sleep-deprivation, the cries, the demands, and the inevitable challenging toddler phase, remember to take time out for yourself to laugh. Laughter is therapeutic and it serves as a reminder that the difficulties you face now are just temporary - 'this too shall pass'. With every challenge you encounter, you will learn to deal with them and move on.
Most importantly, you will quickly realize that with the difficulties comes the most divine moments, the indescribable moments when you forget about the not-so-great days and embrace the beautiful being you helped create with all of the love you can possibly muster. And you will realize that your love will know no bounds and your love like a rush of tidal waves will come effortlessly and without fail.
Being a mother will complete you. You will come to know yourself as a stronger, resilient, and more confident woman in time.
Love always and forever,
Your friend and fellow mother