The Mania of the New Mother’s Careful, Jenga-Built Life.

Posted on Posted in How to Love & Be Loved.

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I realized that my life right now is like a ginormous game of Jenga.

Let’s be clear—I don’t play Jenga.

Still, I envision the way that the wooden pieces are set together in a looming, grand tower and they feel stable—almost. But then, one piece is just slightly nudged—just bumped—and everything topples over.

Having a new baby in the family is the most wonderful fundamental change to a family’s structure.

Everything is new, even when it’s the second baby, like mine is right now.

Because she might look nearly identical to her sister—when they’re sleeping. But then their eyes open and their faces become entirely different.

I’m also an identical twin. My parents have old Polaroids of us asleep too. We look exactly the same. And then, in other photographs, we’re smiling—and our smiles are unique. Or we’re laughing—and the glimmers in our eyes are not the same at all.

Because people are unique and our personalities—even those of identical twins and seemingly identical-looking siblings—are wildly all our own.

And, in my unique little space in my life right now, I sit here writing this with a sore body that just wants to pop into my cozy little yoga room; the room with only a large circular mat and two Jade mats plopped down; the room with a tiny, unusually long and thin table off to one side with special things, like a beautifully large geode that I once won and a lamp that gives off the most gentle light; a light so gentle that this non-night owl actually looks forward to evening practices when my husband’s home from work.

And that’s just it: there’s a perfectly nestled, safe infrastructure cocooned away from the world within our tiny little family and our small-ish home on the hill—but within that soft, cozy space is also fragility and something…almost raw from being so brand-new.

My best friend is coming to visit tomorrow. I cannot wait to see her face, to hug her body and to look into her eyes.

Even talking on the phone—just texting!—has become nearly impossible as I try to juggle being a new mom with being the same mom I already am to my four-year-old.

I feel hot tears build up behind my eyes, that aren’t allowed to spill over, because I’m driving to an appointment or talking to a stranger.

I feel like an open wound hidden behind flimsy gauze and all anyone sees is the slight purplish color underneath my eyes or the way my stomach is close-to-flat as they inspect my postpartum body. People don’t see the fear that lurks under my postpartum skin because they don’t want to; it’s too uncomfortable. It’s much easier and lighter and nicer to talk about my stomach or my lack of sleep.

But my life right now is like a ginormous Jenga game—because it is perfectly placed, even if it’s precarious as well. And, though I so eagerly await my friend’s arrival, I’m also nervous that I’m too frazzled for adult human companionship.

There’s this mania that overcomes a new mother when she’s out in public—even at the grocery store.

She’s like a feral, protective animal as she holds her new baby close in the sling; needing both attention and not-too-much attention. Simultaneously, however, this new mother is manically excited to be out with other adults, since her species is usually found breastfeeding on the sofa with food stains from her four-year-old, or running errands like pre-school pick-up, and not out actually conversing with other “big people.”

So she laughs too much or too hard (which is really too much and too hard since she laughs loudly and easily anyways).

She over-shares just a touch too much (which, even that over-share took effort to reign in since she’s an open individual already).

Because the new mother is two people: herself, wanting camaraderie and giggles and fun and intellectual interaction, while also being a mother bear who wants to hibernate with her new offspring, away from the world and everyone in it (except her four-year-old daughter).

And it’s made even harder when you are a new mother for the second (or third, or fourth…) time. Because when I finally get to hold onto my first little girl—my husband, home from work, has the baby—I want to squeeze her and kiss her and tears come to my eyes all over again for how much I miss her, and our “us.”

But she shoves those tears down until they can spill over when she wants them to. (Although, she knows that this won’t happen—they’ll come freely when she’s writing and can no longer see the computer screen or they’ll come in the middle of a conversation with her doting husband and she has to excuse herself to sob violently alone in the bedroom.)

And this is the mania of the new mother’s careful, tender Jenga-built life.

And every piece is perfectly placed, from her chunks of sleep at night to her best friend’s few-days-long stay.

She grabs a tissue to wipe her flowing tears. The baby within the sling stirs against her beating chest. Her phone lights up with a text from her doting husband who is trying to help plan her friend’s airport pick-up. And all of these things are sitting, stacked one on top of the other in a perfectly ordered, disheveled array.

And she knows that she might be too raw for her manic interactions with the optometrist when she stops in for her daughter’s new pair of glasses, but she’s not too messy for her friend. Or for herself.

Because she’s a new mother and she deserves grace, especially her own.

After all, if we cannot be kind and gracious with ourselves, how can we be these fragile things with the rest of the gently waiting world?

 

Photo: Chris.

This article was first published by Be You Media Group.

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