A few weeks ago I floated to the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit). I had two, just two babies for 12 hours that I had to care for. Just 12 hours they said. These babies cried nonstop in their high-pitched screams the entire day. The babies in the NICU seem to cry to beat of their own drum.
After 8 hours of constant screams from both babies, one settled down and I found myself sitting at the nurses’ station with the one still crying baby in my arms. As I sat there trying to catch up on my work, tears started streaming down my face. I couldn’t step away. How could I? The entire day, I felt helpless. I felt like a failure. I was worn out. There was nothing I could do to comfort them. Not like in the PICU (Pediatric Intensive Care Unit). There, I’m the baby whisperer. I could always find someway to console them. But this was a different culture.
As I walked out at the end of that day, I was beyond exhausted and I started thinking about mothers. How do they do it? Are they counting down to when their fathers watch them so they can run out? Do they get breaks? Do they fall apart and cry, like I did? This horrid thought crossed my mind that day, would I make a horrible mother someday?
What I realized is after that shift, I got to punch out and leave. I may never see those babies again. But motherhood is a full time job, a job that lasts every minute of every day. Moms’ don’t get to punch out, they don’t even get paid. That day my friend Carly reminded me it was okay to take a break and walk away.
I think of my mother. It wasn’t just the first few infant months of my life, my mom was there, wiping every tear from my face through the years. And even as her adult child, I find myself looking for my mom when I need a shoulder to cry on. A mother is full of love for her children. Her ways are selfless, for they never complain. Their children always come first. I don’t know how you do it. How you get through your days when they’re all screaming. But you never give up, no matter how tired you are.
Mothers, there may be days you feel like you can’t make it or feel like you had a mom failure. But, I am here to tell you, you probably have the hardest yet most rewarding job, your children called themselves blessed. I would encourage all mothers to give themselves some grace during their day and through the years. It’s okay to go out. It’s okay to take that break. It’s okay to cry. It’s okay to leave them with their dad. It really is okay. It’s okay to do something fun, something for yourself. You’re not a failure. And you’re definitely not selfish.