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My darling,

We both know the days when we have no patience left to deal with the noise and requests, no willpower to turn the TV off and go to bed at a reasonable hour in order to get enough sleep to keep up with the chaos, no motivation to be the best version of our adult selves and get all the things done like buckets of laundry and mowing the lawn and cleaning up the crumbs and, and, and...

We've had many nights when the exhausted, run-down version of you greets the exhausted, run-down version of me at the door. The nights where the kids should have been in bed an hour ago but we just can't get it together and everything is taking longer than it "should." The nights where we so desperately need to just have 10 minutes of quiet or 10 minutes to connect or 10 minutes to just rest.

We've had many early morning wake up calls. Those mornings when we feel like we blinked and now it's time to start the day. (Like...did I even sleep? Does sleep exist?)

The mornings when we wake up already feeling ready for it to be nighttime again. The mornings where we feel like we woke up on the wrong side of the bed and we're not sure if we're going to be able to turn things around.

We're not sure where we're going to get the energy from to get through what we need to do or the inspiration to do those things with a smile.

We've had the weekends filled with more tasks and less spontaneity. The weekdays filled with meeting after meeting and to-do after to-do. The days when what could go wrong does… the days filled with guilt for not doing enough, not being enough.

The nights when we want to have alone time or go out to dinner on a whim—but can't.

The mornings when we want to sleep in—but can't.

The days when we just want to give our brains a break for a second—but can't.

On these days, I promise, my love—to lift you up.

I promise to be the inspiration when yours cannot be found. To be your motivation when you feel low. To be your patience when you're all out.

When you are having a rough day, I will check in with you. I vow to make you smile.

When you need a break, I will encourage you to take one. I vow to look out for you when you don't feel like you can.

When you feel like you're not enough, I will remind you that you're everything to us. I vow to really see you.

When you feel low, I will help you rise up. I vow to give you all of my love.

And, my darling, I just ask for a few small things in return.

Please see me.

Please notice what I do.

Please lift me up.

On the days when there have been too many messes, too many meltdowns, too many decisions to make, please come home and give me the best hug ever. Please look into my eyes and tell me that you're proud of me.

Please jump right in and help wherever you see needs it. Please try not to focus on the mess or lack of readiness for bedtime, but instead, focus on this family time we have together now.

Focus on the good, on our kids, on what matters.

Focus on me.

And when I feel like I can't go on any further, carry me.

When I feel like I can't do any better, remind me of what makes me good.

When I feel like I am failing, tell me about my successes.

When I feel like I've lost myself, encourage me to go find her.

When I feel like I'm nothing but extra weight, look at me—really see me—and describe to me what makes me beautiful.

When I can't get everything done, let me know that it's okay—because no one can.

When I'm exhausted, remind me to rest.

When I'm down on myself, make me smile.

When I need a night out, tell me I deserve it.

When I don't feel like I am enough… when I feel low and insecure… when I feel like I can't climb out of the hole I've created…

Come get me.

Remind me.

Love me.

Lift me up.

And I'll always be there to return the favor, my darling. I promise.

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When I was expecting my first child, I wanted to know everything that could possibly be in store for his first year.

I quizzed my own mom and the friends who ventured into motherhood before I did. I absorbed parenting books and articles like a sponge. I signed up for classes on childbirth, breastfeeding and even baby-led weaning. My philosophy? The more I knew, the better.

Yet, despite my best efforts, I didn't know it all. Not by a long shot. Instead, my firstborn, my husband and I had to figure it out together—day by day, challenge by challenge, triumph by triumph.

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The funny thing is that although I wanted to know it all, the surprises—those moments that were unique to us—were what made that first year so beautiful.

Of course, my research provided a helpful outline as I graduated from never having changed a diaper to conquering the newborn haze, my return to work, the milestones and the challenges. But while I did need much of that tactical knowledge, I also learned the value of following my baby's lead and trusting my gut.

I realized the importance of advice from fellow mamas, too. I vividly remember a conversation with a friend who had her first child shortly before I welcomed mine. My friend, who had already returned to work after maternity leave, encouraged me to be patient when introducing a bottle and to help my son get comfortable with taking that bottle from someone else.

Yes, from a logistical standpoint, that's great advice for any working mama. But I also took an incredibly important point from this conversation: This was less about the act of bottle-feeding itself, and more about what it represented for my peace of mind when I was away from my son.

This fellow mama encouraged me to honor my emotions and give myself permission to do what was best for my family—and that really set the tone for my whole approach to parenting. Because honestly, that was just the first of many big transitions during that first year, and each of them came with their own set of mixed emotions.

I felt proud and also strangely nostalgic as my baby seamlessly graduated to a sippy bottle.

I felt my baby's teething pain along with him and also felt confident that we could get through it with the right tools.

I felt relieved as my baby learned to self-soothe by finding his own pacifier and also sad to realize how quickly he was becoming his own person.



As I look back on everything now, some four years and two more kids later, I can't remember the exact day my son crawled, the project I tackled on my first day back at work, or even what his first word was. (It's written somewhere in a baby book!)

But I do remember how I felt with each milestone: the joy, the overwhelming love, the anxiety, the exhaustion and the sense of wonder. That truly was the greatest gift of the first year… and nothing could have prepared me for all those feelings.

This article was sponsored by Dr. Brown's. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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As mamas we want our babies to be safe, and that's what makes what happened to Glee actress Naya Rivera and her 4-year-old son Josey so heartbreaking.

On July 13, the Ventura County Sheriff's Department announced the 33-year-old mother's body was found at Lake Piru, five days after her son was found floating alone on a rented boat. According to Ventura County Sheriff Bill Ayub, Rivera's last action was to save her son.

"We know from speaking with her son that he and Naya swam in the lake together at some point in her journey. It was at that time that her son described being helped into the boat by Naya, who boosted him onto the deck from behind. He told investigators that he looked back and saw her disappear under the surface of the water," Ayub explained, adding that Rivera's son was wearing his life vest, but the adult life vest was left on the unanchored boat.

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Ayub says exactly what caused the drowning is still speculation but investigators believe the boat started drifting and that Rivera "mustered enough energy to get her son back onto the boat but not enough to save herself."

Our hearts are breaking for Josey and his dad right now. So much is unknown about what happened on Lake Piru but one thing is crystal clear: Naya Rivera has always loved her son with all her heart.

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