Aw, sweetie, I see you.
I get it.
I have been where you are, and man, it sucks.
As I watch you, I’m tucked in my booth at Panera, having showered and applied makeup. My coffee is hot and I will get to enjoy it before it cools into a curdled mess. I am here, without my kids, enjoying a quiet opportunity to write and rejuvenate my career.
But not you.
You are not having an easy time of it.
I can see it in the messy ponytail, the inside out shirt, and the 5-day-old yoga pants.
I can see it in the overstuffed stroller, the diaper bag filled to capacity, and the dark circles under your eyes.
And I can hear how hard you have it because that precious bundle in your arms won’t stop screaming.
I can see your desperation. How old is she?
Fourteen weeks is prime time for colic.
I see how you bounce her, hold her close, and try not to completely lose it right here amongst the coffee and cheerful fireplaces.
I can see that moment you had this morning, as the baby’s screams reverberated on the walls of the nursery, the moment where you knew you had to pack her up and get out of the house because you were quite certain you’d go mad. That moment where you realized you couldn’t listen to one more minute of tiny baby cries.
I can see how you gently wrapped her in her favorite pink blanket and prayed for patience as you strapped her into her infant carrier. I can see how you leaned against the counter in the kitchen, tired deep in your bones, relishing, for a second, the feel of your arms without a baby in them. I can see how you searched for your keys, your coat, your wallet, as if they were foreign items from a different life.
We just need some fresh air, you thought.
A change of scenery, a break from these four walls, you convinced yourself.
I can see how you sat at the stoplight and realized that if you closed your eyes for just one minute, you’d fall asleep for an hour. But you forced yourself to stay alert. “I am a mom now. She matters more than sleep,” I bet you said.
I can see the tired look on your face, leftover from pacing the floor in the wee hours of the morning. Bouncing, always bouncing, hoping her tiny body would just succumb to the sleep you both so desperately need.
I see the tears welling in your eyes this morning as your husband kissed you and left for work. He’s off to adult communication and power lunches. You have another day of bouncing. Another day of lusty screams from an infant you barely know or understand — just like yesterday, more of the same in store for tomorrow.
I see how badly you want to give up, to give into the shame of exhaustion. I see how badly you want to admit that this colicky, fussy baby isn’t what you signed up for when you saw those two lines on the pee stick a year ago.
As I look at you across the Panera, I see you. You matter to me.
When I see you, I see me.
I see so many women just like you.
I see strength in those arms that hold your baby and refuse to let go.
I see power in those legs that pace the floor, push that stroller for miles, and rock that screaming baby all night long.
I see perseverance behind that tired sigh. A sigh that says, “I will get through this” because that’s what mothers do.
And I see faith that this, too, will pass. The baby will stop screaming. Maybe not right now, maybe not for several more weeks, but I can see you know she’ll settle — eventually. And I can see that you know the quiet will come and you’ll find it both amazing and odd that you will come to miss that tiny voice crying out for the one person who loves her most.
I can see you are the person who loves her the most.
As I watch you balance your fussy baby and I see you take a sip of coffee, I see a brief period of relief on your face. It’s fleeting, only a tiny a moment, but I see it.
I see you.
I’ve been you.
You will sit where I sit someday — makeup done, hair in place, hot coffee in hand.
You will be me.