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Have you ever seen a sweeter little hand?

Sometimes when my kid is asleep I sneak in his room to check on him and find him looking so darn cute, I have to take a photo so I can remember what a tiny little moochie bear he was. Then he finds the photos on my phone and asks when I took them and my confession leads him to declare, THAT’S SO CREEPY! He’s not wrong. I mean, it is creepy AF to take photos of someone when they sleep, even if it’s of a person you built inside your own body.

But that’s me– a mom who loves her kid so much she falls asleep at night to a visual cocktail of Instagram home decor blogs and her child’s PJ-clad ankle. Yeah, this is getting creepier by the second.

You might be thinking, big deal. Lots of moms love their kids. Next! Also not wrong. But this is me. And if you knew me when I first became a mom you’d be like, Huh, no shit. Never would have guessed. Everyday I’m surprised this is me. This person whom seven years ago returned to work after a thirteen-week maternity leave joyous and relieved to be back on the job. Yep, I couldn’t wait to return to “office work” because “mom work” was so much harder. At work I could spend all day arguing with adults over which Housewife was the worst Housewife, eat my lunch with two hands, and give up responsibility for the care and feeding of my infant for nine hours in favor of obsessively checking the daycare’s Facebook page for photos of other people handling the care and feeding of my infant for nine hours. And, you know, working. Pure bliss.

Again you might be thinking, Okay, sure, newborns are hard. Give us some news here, lady! To that I will say, YOU COME HERE FOR NEWS??? And yeah, having a baby is hard isn’t breaking news, but it can be really hard for some of us. And I’m not talking about the getting pregnant, staying pregnant, getting that baby out of your body part. I’m talking about the emotional part. Let’s see, I was about three months in and pumping nonstop. Sleeping very little. Spending weekends and evenings at occupational therapists and lactation consultants and new parent support groups really wishing I could fit into my old pants again, knowing THAT IS NOT WHAT WAS IMPORTANT, but feeling really uncomfortable physically and mentally and would rather be second-guessing my every thought and wallowing in self-pity in my favorite jeans, BUT COMMENDING MY MIND AND BODY FOR THE AMAZING THING IS JUST ACCOMPLISHED, and just not getting this whole motherhood thing. It just wasn’t natural for me the way it was for other women. Maybe I was too old, too set in my ways. Maybe I waited too long. I was of advanced maternal age, after all (and between you and me I was very advanced.) I loved that kid, but didn’t love being a mom. Always on edge, fearful Quinn would need something I couldn’t provide, as awkward and uncomfortable as someone who tries to fit into her jeans at least eight months too early.

Actual photo of me the first time someone asked if I wanted to hold my baby. Cartoon by Cathy Guisewite

But look at me now. Creeping into my son’s room to snap pictures of his cute, little hands. I tell people about this magnificent transformation all the time, especially moms-to-be, and I’m always met with the same reaction.

“Ohhhh wow, are you allowed to admit that?”

Heck yes, you can admit it! Say it loud! To anyone who needs to hear it. LOT’S of women feel this way. I know that now and I really wish I knew that then. The books and hospital classes and neighborhood Facebook mom groups won’t tell you how hard this transformation is. Nothing can truly prepare you for all of it, but you can be prepared to feel whatever you’re going to feel.

You’re not broken. It’s not helpless. Far from it. It’s all part of the process. Some of us just have a longer warming up period. At least buy us dinner first, kid. Sheesh. While you’re waiting for things to heat up, you might want to delete some photos from your camera roll. Trust me. You’ll need the room.

But seriously, have you ever seen a cuter little hand?

Mommy’s fine, sweetie. Just go to bed.

Shelly Mazzanoble

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