This is a letter to my best friend as she prepares to become a mother -- and to my best friends who will follow on this path in the years to come....
When I met you, we were young and starry-eyed. We were full of hope in what the future would hold for us. We talked about cute boys, we traveled together, and we shared life's details we wouldn't even share with our own mothers. When we talked about the future, it typically centered around where we might live or who we might marry -- not necessarily about the days we would become a mother. Motherhood seemed like a distant reality. Believe it or not, that distant reality? It's here.
I'll admit: when I became a mother, I felt like I was on my own island. A few of my dear friends who were mothers tried to prepare me for what was to come. No matter how many questions I asked, nothing could have prepared me for the journey that is motherhood. I wish I could prepare you for what is to come, but unfortunately, there is no foolproof guidebook to motherhood that you can buy on Amazon. (If there was, I would have purchased it -- and already sent you a copy.)
I marvel at the mothers who "get it" from the early days. The ones who are brave enough to nurse in public from day one. The ones who shake off the blowouts. The ones who know every last piece of baby gear under the sun. Here's the thing... I've determined most of those mothers are second-time moms. If they're not, good for them. You have to find your own groove in motherhood. It may take you six months; it may take you two years. However long it takes, you can trust I'll be there to share my journey and give my side of the story -- without insisting it's the only way.
I won't judge if you do or don't breastfeed. I won't judge if you FaceTime me and haven't showered in days. I won't judge if you co-sleep. I won't judge if you choose not to sleep train. (Ok, I may judge if you make your own baby food -- but only because I don't have the time to do it myself.) If you haven't noticed, the theme of this whole paragraph is that I will not judge your journey to motherhood. I simply pledge to be by your side, every step of the way.
I can try to explain the feeling you'll get when you see your baby (YOUR BABY!) for the first time, but I can't. I can try to explain all the yucky parts of those tender postpartum weeks, but instead, I promise to answer your questions and keep the fear at bay for now. I can try to explain the exhaustion that comes with motherhood, but I will fail (read: it isn't like those all-nighters we pulled in college). I can try to explain the elation with seeing your baby's firsts, but until you witness that first smile or that first roll, my words won't mean much. You'll understand soon enough.
Truth be told, I cannot wait to see how your life changes once you have that baby (your baby!!!) in your arms. It sounds incredibly cliché, but it's true: it may not always be easy, but I promise it is always worth it. Our friendship will inevitably change once you become a mother. I am ok with that. Why? We will have a whole new facet to our late-night phone calls, text message chains, and frantic emails. It will no longer be about you and me -- it will be about something much, much more.
I don't want to lose sight of what brought us together in the first place, of course. When I signed on to be your best friend many moons ago, I signed up for this too. We still have so many memories to make! I can't wait to take tandem family vacations. I'm already excited for those rare girls' weekends, when we leave the boys with our brood and get a chance to relax. Most of all, I look forward to the days when we're old and gray, chatting about our grandkids and laughing about our early days.
I may not be your sister, but I am your best friend. Whether you realize it or not, you will be an incredible mother. How do I know? You're the friend I've needed in the lowest of the lows and the highest of the highs. You're smart. You're generous. You're thoughtful. You're compassionate. You're you. The only piece of advice I have is this: trust your gut. You've got this -- and you've got me right by your side, whenever you need me.