You’ll Just Know

Posted on | January 20, 2011 | 3 Comments

When I was pregnant with J, I remember people telling me that I would “just know” when he was hungry or tired or sad or scared. I remember being told that it would just “come to me.” And I’ll be honest, during the first month (or maybe longer) of J’s little life, I wondered if I was missing something. When he cried, I didn’t know what he wanted. I could usually soothe him with a boob, but I didn’t know if that was what he wanted or if he was just distracted.

When he fussed, I couldn’t tell the difference between a “my diaper is wet” fuss and an “I’m burning up with fever” fuss.  I didn’t know if he needed food or warmth or just a reminder that someone else was around and awake. In short, I didn’t know what the hell I was doing. And I was haunted by all those “you’ll just knows” and “it’ll come to yous” until I pretty much convinced myself that I was the worst mom in the history of moms because I just didn’t know my own kid.

It’s easy, looking back, to gloss over those first weeks with J. It’s easy for me now, to remember the warmth of his little, swaddled body next to mine, his sweet breath on my cheek and the feeling of his tiny hand wrapped around my finger. It’s easy to forget the feeling of abject terror every time I woke up because I couldn’t remember if I’d fallen asleep or when or for how long.  I can almost pretend that those sleep haunted weeks never actually occurred.

When I was sitting in the rocking chair in the nursery tonight, watching the breath rise and fall in J’s little chest as he fell asleep, I thought about those early days. I thought about how scared I was. I thought about how I felt like I’d never get the hang of being someone’s mother. I thought about how I never thought I’d make it this far.  I never imagined that I would ever sit in a nursery with my son and not feel the rise of panic in my throat. I never imagined I could be at peace with my role as J’s mother.

But somehow, over the past sixteen months, I’ve learned a lot about how to be a mother. I don’t think you can ever know everything about being a mother… it’s a learn as you go kind of job. But I’ve learned a lot. And these days, I can say that I “just know.” When J cries, I know if he’s hurting or just tired. I know if he wants attention or if he needs comfort. I know the difference between an “I’m mad because you put me down” cry and an “I’m scared, please come get me” wail.  But it took a long time to get to that point. And there are still times when I don’t know what he wants and we both get frustrated to the point that he’s a nervous wreck and I’m like a parrot, repeating “Use your words! I don’t know what you want unless you tell me” over and over and over again. But most of the time? I just know.

So guess what I’m saying is… if you’re a new mom? Hang in there. You really will just know… someday. It really will just come to you… later down the road. For now, just do the best you can do. Sleep when and if you can. Love your little one constantly. And don’t worry if you can’t tell the difference between tired and wet. Because one day? You will know.


3 Responses to “You’ll Just Know”

  1. Joanna
    January 20th, 2011 @ 1:50 am

    This is such a heartfelt and great post. I was the same way, I had no idea what her “cries” where but now I know here so well that it’s frightening. Gives me hope for #2 🙂

  2. Katie Jones
    January 20th, 2011 @ 1:59 am

    so. true.

    You cant read enough books. There IS no “what to expect” when you are a mother. You just look back one day and say to yourself, “well, I did it!”

  3. Jessica @ Raising an Owlet
    January 20th, 2011 @ 2:41 am

    Thank you. I have a 4 month old, and there are certainly days that I feel like I know what his cries mean. Then there are other days that he cries and I just shove a boob in his mouth, hoping that it makes it stop. It usually does, but it’s not always what he needs, I’m sure.

    Awesome post.

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