Published on April 1st, 2016 | by Devon Rae Hartwig2
LETTER TO A YOUNG MUTHA from Devon Rae Hartwig
Dear young MUTHA,
This letter is not to patronize, infantilize, or criticize you. This letter is a form of solidarity, a cry from one beating mother’s heart to another’s. This is something for you to read when the days are long and the nights, infinitely longer. This is the voice of the other young mother you see out and about who gives you that knowing glance, but is too preoccupied to come over and give you a high five and say, “You’re killing it! We’re in this together.”
Whether you met the love of your life and jumped into baby making at Mach 5 speed, your birth control failed, or you’re doing this “mother” thing all on your own, I just want to tell you, you’re rocking it. How you got here, pregnant, baby in arms, raw nips, or waking up to heat that bottle night after night at 2:00 am is nobody’s business but your own. You’re a mother, dammit, and motherin’ is hard work that never ends. Don’t let the naysayers; the upstanding citizens, or the never-done-wrongers bring you down. Your struggle and your triumphs in motherhood are your own. Don’t let the loudest, meanest voices darken your journey. Let the ones that whisper, “You’re such a good mom” and “Do you need a shower? I’ll watch the baby” be your guiding lights
It’s your baby. It’s funny how when you become a mother everyone has an opinion, about you, your baby, your relationship. But it’s like my mom always said, opinions are like butts, everybody’s got ’em. Whether you cloth diaper, dig those huggies, wear your baby, swaddle them, rock them, or let them watch Daniel Tiger so you can pee uninterrupted, you are still the mom! Are you feeding your baby? Is your baby warm? Does your baby receive love? Excellent. Bingo. Right on the money. You are pretty good at this baby thing. Actually, you are great. Oh, and just because you have a baby, or a baby bump, doesn’t mean people are just allowed to touch you. It’s your baby, it’s your body. You have every right to tell the close talker and the sharp nailed to keep their mitts to themselves!
Everything is a phase…except baby love. That horrible reaction your parents had when you told them that tattooed sweetheart you met on tinder had knocked you right up…a phase. That puking thing you did or are doing for months on end during pregnancy…a phase. Your baby being unbelievably little and soft….a phase. Your baby playing with their feces…a phase. But baby love, oh sweet mama, baby love is forever. They say that you should take time to smell the roses, but young mama, take time to smell your babies’ head. Do it every day, in the best of times, and when you’re running on two hours of sleep and had a Reese’s peanut butter cup for dinner.
You are stronger than you think. Trust your body. Trust your baby. Trust the people who were there for you from the moment you told them you were pregnant. Most importantly, trust yourself. You were made to do incredible things, hard things. Motherhood is one of them. You don’t have to be married to be a mother. You don’t have to feel grown up yet. You don’t have to be of a certain age, gender, race, or religion. There are people who are married, with excellent jobs, and some sort of retirement jazz all set up and I can promise you that some of them… are not as good at being a parent as you are. Believe you are an excellent mother, set your standards, and whatever that looks like for you, you will get there. When people try to challenge your parenting choices, it’s okay to say, “I’m the mom, I’ve got this.”
So here’s to you, fellow young MUTHAS. Single and partnered. The teenagers and the not yet twenty-one’s. The breastfeeding and the formula savvy. The attachment lovers and the ferber frenzied. Smell that baby’s head, and give a hefty middle finger to anyone who tries to bring you down. You are one helluva a mutha.
Devon Rae (A young 20-something MUTHA)