To The Postpartum Mama As We Begin A New Year

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Confession: I wrote this piece last year when I was barely two months postpartum in December 2020 but, in the newborn haze, I forgot to submit it. Reading it this year made me smile; I’m so glad I was being patient with myself this time last year. I’m grateful as I read the hope I had in my heart a year ago. At the time, I knew that, in a year (so, now), I would be in a different, “better” spot. I’m definitely not where I thought I would be at a year plus postpartum, but the patience I had for myself is both convicting and inspiring me to approach my current self with a little more grace. Thanks, December 2020 Self.

Hey, Mama?

I need you to breathe.

You just had a whole human. Whether “just” is last week or almost a year ago, there’s a whole new human around that you’re in charge of. (Yikes, just reading that sentence makes me need coffee.) Your family dynamic has changed significantly this year, amidst the changing of the whole world during these “unprecedented times,” as everyone calls it.

Seriously, you’re probably still in some level of pain or discomfort, physically and/or emotionally/mentally. You’ve got to stop and breathe. (I’m saying this mostly to myself, but you could probably use it too. Maybe?)

I assume, like myself, that you’re surrounded by the frenzy of motivational and overachieving posts as we come up on the New Year. I’m sure the intention of these posts is to be encouraging and motivating, but as a mama with a brand-new baby, it’s JUST TOO MUCH.

I’m still sore and everything about my body is unpredictable right now, and you want me to have my whole next year planned out? Yeah, sorry. . . I don’t even have the next six hours planned out because my tiny human calls those shots (not to mention my free-spirited toddler).

In this season of life, I can only live with intentions over expectations.

The worst part is that I WANT to have these perfectly planned daily/weekly/monthly goals. The pre-mama me would have a prioritized list, a color-coded planner. I would be making purchases pertaining to my resolutions as I gear-up to accomplish all of my goals. In some weird way, I’m grieving the New Year’s traditions of old.

It is OKAY if your only resolution is to keep tiny people alive. It’s also okay if you have no resolution. This is your season to soak it all up, to live moment by moment, to slow down and enjoy your children. There will be plenty of seasons and years in the future where you can move full speed ahead, and that’s awesome if you’re ready for it now! But if you’re not, this is your free pass to simply be, in case you needed to hear someone say it aloud.

I hope you find peace in this season of the year and this season of motherhood. Happy New Year, Mama. May you focus on intentions over expectations, and give yourself some grace in the year ahead.

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Audra Smith did not spend her childhood in Alabama, but got down here as fast as she could! Originally from Ohio, Audra met and married her husband (of nearly 6 years now), Brian, while in college, and they decided to move to Alabama on a whim a year after graduation, resulting in the best decision ever made. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Family Studies/Child Development. Audra spent the first few years after the move working for The University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa within Early Childhood Education. After years of working in close proximity to Big Al, it’s safe to say now that she is a faithful Tide fan. Audra is an Army National Guard wife due to Brian’s military service and dedication to the great state of Alabama and our country. After enduring years of infertility, Audra and Brian were miraculously blessed with their daughter Nora Jo, who was born in March 2018 in the heart of Birmingham. Audra now resides in the Chelsea area (Sterrett) with her husband Brian, daughter Nora Jo, and living security system (lab/hound mix) Hamilton. When she’s not wrangling and chasing after a spunky toddler, Audra enjoys a good book, just about a million cups of coffee a day, embracing/celebrating the wild ride of postpartum, any DIY crafty project, and being on the water. She initially went to college for Vocal Music, and still enjoys music and singing very much as an outlet (even if she’s mostly singing “Baby Shark” these days.) Audra is passionate about raising awareness for Type 1 Diabetes, as she lives with this disease every day. Audra is currently a stay at home mom who makes it a priority to cultivate side projects related to her passions. She enjoys connecting with other mamas, women, and anyone who needs someone to talk to. Instagram has become a virtual tribe for her, and if you’d like to participate, head on over to @audrashoupesmith whenever you need a dose of “real life.”

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