An Open Letter to My Daughter’s Father: What It’s Like to be Mom

Subject: An Open Letter to My Daughter’s Father: What It’s Like to be Mom
From: Your Daughter's Mom
Date: 29 Dec 2015

Your life hasn’t changed at all, has it? You come over for an hour on a Saturday, and then you’re off to go do something with your friends. Your ignorant comments have made this apparent to me. You have no idea what it means to constantly make sacrifices for someone other than yourself.

When you slept all night in the bathtub at the birth center, and then had trouble waking up in the morning; when you said, “I’m glad we were able to get at least a little bit of sleep” – Did you know that I was up all night, trying to figure out how to take care of my new baby?

On our second night home when you asked if I could skype you, and told me that I could “go to bed” afterward – Did you know that I couldn’t just “go to bed?” Did you know that babies wake up every three hours to eat, and that I was struggling to stay awake even as I was talking to you? Did you know how rude you were being?

When you told me that you couldn’t come hold the baby for me to do some things around the house because you were tired, and told me that I shouldn’t be that tired anyway because I got to nap during the day with the baby and didn’t have to work like you, did you even know what you were saying? Do you know what it’s like to have to do everything with one hand while holding a wiggling baby with the other? Do you really think taking care of her is that easy?

When you walked through the room and saw me nursing, then five minutes later walked back through and said, “Wow she must have been hungry, she’s STILL eating?!” – Did you know that the average feeding is 20 minutes long, and can last up to an hour? Did you know that my back hurts constantly and I slouch over from habit now on accident, from leaning over while I’m feeding the baby so much?

Do you know what it’s like to cook yourself a hot meal while the baby is sleeping, only for her to wake up immediately after you’re done cooking? So then you have to either scarf it down as quickly as possible while the baby cries and probably burn your tongue, or eat your food cold? Did you know that the rare instances that I get to enjoy eating my food while it’s still hot feel like a special treat?

Do you know what it’s like when you think you can take a nice, long, hot shower because you finally got the baby to go to sleep, but as soon as you turn the water on she wakes up? So you throw some body wash on your arm pits and lady parts and go to take care of the baby. And when you finally do get that long, hot shower it’s been almost a week since you’ve had one and it’s cutting into your sleep time, and you had five cups of coffee that day just to keep yourself going because you’re doing this all by yourself.

Do you know what it’s like to take care of a tiny, demanding human twenty four seven? Do you know that my entire world revolves around this baby? I eat, sleep, shower, and even use the bathroom around her schedule. I rarely get time to myself. Did you know that when she’s not in the car I turn the radio up as loud as it will go and take turns fast, because I can, dammit for once I can! And did you know that that’s as reckless as my life gets? I don’t get to go out on Friday nights like you do, or go on dates like you do. And if I ever get a rare chance, I have to cut it short to come pick her up from the babysitter.

Do you know what it’s like when instead of checking your bank account, you check your credit card accounts to see how much you have left to spend before you’re out of money? Do you know what it’s like to go home from your job with nothing, wondering how you will pay your bills but thankful that you made enough to pay the babysitter and put enough gas in your car to get home? Do you know what it’s like to support a child all on your own, without any financial support from the other parent? No. You don’t.

You don’t know what any of this is like. You come to see her, yes. But you don’t know what it’s like to be the mom. Hell, you barely know what it’s like to be the dad. And just like you don’t know any of those things, there’s something else you don’t know either.

You don’t know what it’s like to love someone so fully that you would give your life for her, to protect her in a heartbeat. You don’t know what it feels like, when you want to hold someone in your arms forever and protect her from all the horrible things on this earth. From all the corruption in this world. When you want to wrap her up in a bubble of wonderful, beautiful, things and let her smile be the light that shines throughout your whole life and makes it worth living. I want to protect her from you.

I guess my point is, even though you don’t know of the pain and suffering that I go through by being a single parent, the custodial and main parent, you also don’t know anything about the greatest thing of all: my love for my daughter. I believe that you love her. But I don’t believe that you have any concept of what a mother’s love is, how fierce it is. Because if you did, you wouldn’t be doing us wrong the way you are.

So in the end, I’ve won this battle already, because I get to be the one to cuddle her at night and save her from her bad dreams. The first thing I see every morning is my daughter’s smile. And that is something worth living for.