a letter to the mama whose baby is (still) not sleeping

Dear Mama,


I see you.

I see the circles under your eyes, the dregs of yesterday’s mascara you forgot to wash away before falling into bed.

I see your smile, weary and a little self-concious, hoping no one notices–hoping they won’t mind the missed appointments, the forgotten items, the time you accidentally showed up to the grocery store in slippers.

I see you slipping into leggings for the fourteenth day in a row, wondering how you’ll ever get your body back when every free moment is dedicated to rest. I see you, missing the way you used to move: the wind in your hair on a bike, the beat of your feet on the trail, missing the runner’s high and the warm, proud way your muscles burned at the end of a good workout. (You’ll feel it again, I promise.)

I see you, blinking in the moonlight, pajama top soaked in breast milk, your husband blissfully asleep on the pillow next to yours while you cuddle and coo and cry to the little one in your arms.

I see you, barefoot in the kitchen, cold tile chilling you to the weary bone marrow as you prepare yet another bottle: scoop, pour, heat, shake, feed, rinse, repeat.

I see your wan face in the blue light of the computer screen as you search desperately for answers: a better sleep schedule, another dietary change, a promise of hope and peace and quiet. Are you doing this wrong? Is there a fix for this?

I see you doubting.

(Dear one, don’t doubt yourself. You’re doing your best + your best is enough.)

I see you, first time mama, mourning the idyll of motherhood you imagined: will it all pass by in this bleary-eyed blur, this thing you wished for so long? Will you remember the good things? You had hoped to do this all again, many times over perhaps, but now you wonder if you could. If you even want to.

I see you, mama with this sleepless babe in arms and another, not much bigger, clinging to your tired legs: how can you be enough for them both? How can you meet all their incessant, irrational, vitally important needs?

You try not to compare them. You try not to resent. You miss the days when it was just the two of you and you had energy to say yes to all the fingerpaints + rainboots + playdates his little toddler-heart desired. Then you feel guilty for missing them, and for all the times you’ve had to say no.

I see you, mama of many: I see the spinning plates crashing down on your head, the wants and needs slipping through your fingers. You bark orders like a captain who has to keep her ship from sinking, but all you really want to do is sink onto the couch and hold all these little hearts tight, because you know by now how fast it goes, and you don’t want to miss a moment.

I see you, mama struggling to thrive through illness: I see you pouring every iota of energy you have into survival. You’re told that you need rest to heal, but rest is the one thing you can’t seem to get. You worry, because if you can’t take care of yourself, how will you ever take care of her?

I see you, single mama: feeling the heavy weight of solo parenting on your sagging shoulders. You worry you can’t do this alone. You worry this child will break you. You’re worried the lack of sleep will cost you your job, and then where will you be?

I see you, mama.

I’m praying that others will see you, too: dear loves who will bring you a meal, another pair of arms, an hour of uninterrupted quiet while they take your wakeful babe for a drive.

I’m lifting your needs up in my own sleepless hours, murmuring prayers for you in the dark while I rock + soothe + yawn over this wakeful babe of my own.

I know, because I’ve been here before, that one day this will end.

One day, believe it or not, you may actually wake up to find yourself well-rested and missing the warmth of a chubby cheek in the crook of your arm, the sacred moonlight trysts of mother + child, the aimless wandering of halls with no one but her for company–and you her only everything.

I know a future you may miss doesn’t make your present any less hard.

It’s okay to do both: to hate it now + miss it then.

It’s okay that this is hard. Sanctification happens in the crucible. Lean in, accept help + know that you’re doing it right.

You are doing this right.

You are a good mama, in all your sleepless glory.

You are good + loved + enough.




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