1. Don't be afraid to mourn your loss.
We had plans. Big ones. Cross-country trips that we can no longer afford, business ideas that have to wait, sleep we'll never get back. Our Annie is worth it. Every sacrifice and lost possibility is immediately worth her scrunchy face that looks like a grumpy old man when she sleeps. But that doesn't mean I shouldn't mourn the loss of what I'd hoped for. Ignoring loss - even selfish loss - only makes us resentful and discontent.
Be honest about what you're losing, and mourn without guilt.
2. Don't be afraid when you want to run.
I sat on the couch with the entire family today, watching my husband wrestle my boys while Annie slept on my chest, and I thought, "I should treasure this," and then I threw up in my mouth a little and felt the urge to run, despite my swollen postpartum feet.
It's okay to want to run, to seek escape when things are hard. The sooner we admit it, the sooner we remember why we'd rather stay.
3. Don't be afraid when you run out of cookies.
Chocolate chips will do in a pinch.
4. Don't be afraid when you cry over salad.
When that friend brings you dinner and you immediately cry and hug her because it's your favorite Greek salad and you didn't make it and people can be so wonderful, don't think you're being weird. Crying over salad is a rite of motherly passage.
5. Don't be afraid when people see you at your worst.
Gone are the days of apologizing for your unwashed hair, your unswept floors, and your undressed children. If your friends visit, it's okay that you're in yesterday's clothes surrounded by a week's worth of toys and your middle kid runs through the room without pants.
Friends don't let friends feel badly for being regular, and you should treat yourself the same way.
6. Don't be afraid when your kids insult another person's cooking while they're still in your kitchen.
Friends will bring you meals and save your life, and then your other kids will say things like, "Yeah, it's almost good." It's gonna happen, y'all. Don't fight it.
7. Don't be afraid that you still look pregnant.
You don't need to explain your belly to strangers or avoid going to Target because you feel fat. You'll look pregnant for awhile, but your value isn't based on how far your stomach sticks out. And don't get mad at the sweet farmers market man who hasn't seen you since last summer and says, "Sugar, are you having another baby?" Simply smile and say, "I just did."
8. Don't be afraid when you do it wrong.
You will. So many times. Accept it, and start again tomorrow.
9. Don't be afraid when no one sees you do it right.
Validation is a lovely thing, but you don't need an audience to experience your worth.
10. Don't be afraid of fear.
Or at least take a lesson from Harry Potter and acknowledge that you're afraid of being afraid. See it, accept it, fight against it, and then reward yourself with chocolate. If that's good enough for wizards, it's good enough for us.