love is the voice under all silences,
the hope which has no opposite in fear;
the strength so strong mere force is feebleness:
the truth more first than sun more last than star
Maybe you’re reading this and it’s three a.m. and you just got the baby back to sleep again, and your sheets smell like slightly sour milk and they’re damp in places and you know you should probably change her diaper but there’s no way you’re disturbing her when she just drifted off, so you scroll down the screen, and you keep catching a slight scent of ammonia on top of the weirdly familiar smell of your own sleep-deprived desperation, but instead of turning off your phone and letting your eyes close, you use the light to stare at the way her lips form a perfect rosebud and her forest of lashes paints a world of shadows on her cheeks until your dreams take you in spite of yourself, and when you wake up in two hours, or one hour, or thirty-seven minutes to her sweet kitten sounds and softly searching hands, I want you to remember this: you are doing this with love, and you’re doing just fine.
Maybe you’re reading this and it’s six in the morning, and you’re rummaging through the dishwasher, looking for the clean bottles and nipples with bleary eyes that still have sleep-crusted corners, and your hand knocks over the can of formula and it spills all over the counter, and the water is taking forever to heat up, and over the monitor that has batteries that need to be replaced but you keep forgetting to buy them, you can hear the crackling sound of your three month old starting his day, and you really just wanted one cup of coffee with only yourself for company and you know by the time you get back to it it will be tepid and taste terrible, but it’s okay, you’ll go in and get him and the warm, sleepy shape of him curled into your arms will feel like the best and most important thing you’ve ever done, and as you hold him close while he greedily gulps down the four ounces that are inching towards five, remember this: you are doing it with love, and you’re doing just fine.
Maybe you’re reading this and you’re reminiscing about the beautiful birth you had at home, the way time flowed exactly the way you’d pictured and the energy in the room was just right, and your contractions were the kind you could breathe through and your visualizations worked the way they were meant to, and everything was an ocean, waves crashing and water receding, and the light wasn’t too bright and the voices weren’t too loud, and everything was suffused with the kind of love you can taste on the air, and then came the thundering between your thighs and the high wailing that accompanies crossing a veil, and there he was, everything and nothing you expected, and as your mind wanders down a path lined with warm memories as thick as flannel, remember this: you did it with love, and you’re doing just fine.
Maybe you’re reading this through tears soaking into your pillow, remembering a hundred times over each part that went wrong, each time you felt alone and unimportant and ignored, each time you were let down, led astray, and left with all your emotions flipped inside out, shrinking back from the exposure, and every minute felt as though you’d lived a lifetime within its scope, and you feel like you gave your power away, you feel like you let them take that primal part of you and excise it, neatly, impersonally, and you feel like you never had anything to bargain with in the beginning anyway, and sometimes you can’t sleep at night because the bad dreams fill up your room and seep into your skin, and you’re doing what you can to put the pieces of yourself back together because you can’t go on being this broken, and you know it might be the hardest work you ever have to do, but you’re dedicated to the doing of it, and as you cry and you contemplate, please remember this: you did it out of love, and you’re doing just fine.
Maybe you’re a stay at home mom, reading this at your kitchen table, surrounded by grocery lists and meal plans, and maybe you’re trying to keep everything as clean as possible – the house, the kids, the food, the car that seems to attract stray hair and mountains of crumbs like a magnet – and some days it feels like you were made to do this and some days you want to pack a bag and get the hell out, and you love your kids so much it could crack your ribs in half, but you’re pretty sure it’s not too much to ask to be able to poop in peace, and maybe even have a bath once in a while without someone coming in and asking can I have a cracker? can I have five dollars? can I make a battleship out of the brownies you burnt and sink it with the fireplace lighter? can you tell me why god doesn’t like Harry Potter? and sometimes you wake up with a mouth full of thankfulness for the moments you aren’t missing and sometimes you lie in the dark paralyzed at all the moments you are missing and as you count your concerns disguised as wolves in sheep’s clothing, just remember: you are doing all this out of love, and you’re doing it just fine.
Maybe you’re a single mom, working endless hours, reading this as you hurriedly stuff a sandwich in your face on what’s left of your thirty minute lunch break, and you’re barely making enough to get by most months, and you can feel their eyes on you in the check-out line, eyes that spark small fires in the back of your head and flame the side of your face, and you know they’re silently calculating how much that box of Cap’n Crunch costs you, and you can see your basket through the filter of their judgment, weighing up the ten boxes of generic mac ‘n cheese, the store brand pizzas, the value pack of chips and the dented cans of mixed vegetables and the distinct lack of fresh fruit, and you wish you could tell them how you work until six every night, and your kids have to be in bed by eight so they won’t be monsters in the morning while you get them ready for daycare and school, and that you can make a week’s worth of meals for what two pounds of apples costs, and you wish they would listen, but you just swipe your card and walk to your car with your head full of hornets, and as you sit there with your hands on the wheel, willing yourself not to care, I want you to remember this: you are doing it out of love, and you’re doing just fine.
Maybe you ate sushi while you were pregnant. Maybe you abstained from caffeine the whole nine months. Maybe you elected to have a c-section. Maybe you wanted an epidural the minute you showed up at the hospital. Maybe you never wanted to breastfeed. Maybe you wanted to breastfeed, and couldn’t. Maybe you pumped exclusively for a year. Maybe you work from home. Maybe you work sixty hours a week. Maybe you are trying to straddle that old, worn out fence between “mother” and “artist.” Maybe you are happily married to a wonderful man. Maybe you are happily married to a wonderful woman. Maybe you are happily married to the idea that you are all you need, and all the parent your children need. Maybe you share a family bed. Maybe you don’t want a child in your bed. Maybe you spank your kids. Maybe you have a time-out stair. Maybe you have a nanny. Maybe you do everything yourself.
Maybe you’re fulfilled.
Maybe you’re lonely.
Maybe you’re never sure you’re doing it right.
Listen to me. Remember.
Are you doing it out love?
Then you’re doing fine.