I had no clue how to be a mum.
I had never done any real babysitting, never dreamed about my future kids, never wished for motherhood.
And I had no idea that the labour continues long after the delivery. Consequently the first year of Jackson's life was about the most blurred and confusing one I (barely) remember.
He was a gorgeous baby. Everybody admired him. Deep blue eyes and blonde halo hair. He looked exactly like his dad.
And I wanted to look exactly like I thought a new mum was supposed to look.
But in the first 18 months of Jackson's life I never met one other new mother who said that she was finding the transition hard, frustrating, exhausting or wretched.
So I played dress-up in my words, my role, my uncomfortably tight clothes and my Sunday mornings when I always answered, "fine" anytime anyone asked how me and the baby were doing.
Fine became my shield and my friend and the bars behind which it was impossible to connect with anyone who could actually relate to where I was at.
The mums and I who all had babies at the same time were all fine as far as I could tell. And I believed to break that spell was to fail at this first test that truly mattered -- the gruelling multiple choice of motherhood.
I know better now.
I know that dark rings must have lurked under their eye makeup and heartache under their Sunday outfits. I know that they were likely running on just as little sleep as me and that they wished someone else would hold the baby from 3 to 5pm. I know that they probably got tired of lugging that car seat carrier everywhere and that they couldn't remember the last time they'd slept in. I know that they may not have actually enjoyed having to show up on late nights or early mornings for school or church or whatever events.
I know now -- now that I'm three kids in -- that being a new mum and losing your mind have plenty in common.
But I never heard it back then when it would have helped me to breathe.
Last night I was lying in bed next to my baby girl, twirling her fingers through mine, and I thought of that brand new mum. I thought of her alone and lonely wondering how to make sense of her late nights and early mornings and the rip that had torn through the middle of her universe to let in more love and more chaos than she possibly could have planned when she packed her hospital bag.
I remembered that mum and how she wouldn't have thought lying in bed tired, rumpled, and still in work clothes with a baby girl tucked under one arm and all the dishes from dinner sitting dirty in the sink would have sounded even remotely appealing.
How she couldn't imagine she'd adapt and that motherhood would start to feel as comfortable as her size 10 jeans used to.
I thought about her and I thought about you reading and how maybe no one has said out loud what you needed to hear either.