A brand new mom walks down the sidewalk with her 3-week-old baby snuggly secured to her chest in a carrier. One of the straps digs into her shoulder, causing pain, but now that the baby sleeps, she’s too afraid to make any adjustments. Putting the carrier on by herself, and placing the baby inside, took nearly 45 minutes. She awkwardly fumbled with the clasps behind her and tried several times before discovering the best way to keep the baby from rolling out while still securing each strap. Of course, the baby was not patient or understanding of the process, so he screamed the entire time.

Finally outside, the new mom tries to breathe. She looks at the sunshine above her and wonders how the rest of the world goes on as usual while her life has undergone such a profound shift. She’s walking on her same sidewalk, but she feels like a stranger – an imposter.

She passes an older woman who smiles lovingly. They both stop so the woman can admire the sleeping infant.

“What a good baby…” the woman coos.

“Yes,” his mother responds – “He’s very good.”

“Enjoy every minute!” the woman adds, and she starts walking away.

The mother looks down, and the baby starts to stir. Stopping her walking motion in order to talk to the woman no doubt unsettled him. She quickly begins walking again, jostling and swaying her body, hoping to get a few more minutes of peace.

So much in life is unsaid. We say what is expected and acceptable. We communicate with ourselves, our relationships, and other people, often saying how we DON’T really feel. Instead, we say how we think we SHOULD feel, or what other people want to hear – which makes us feel at once like a liar, and also inadequate because we don’t actually feel that way. As a result, we all walk around like impostors, what we voice often not in sync with our inner truth.

The baby is good. The baby sleeps well. I love being a mom.

It’s what we don’t say that holds the real truth and love.

I’m exhausted. The baby screams all the time. No one told me it would be like this.

So much beauty lies in the unvoiced spaces in between – what if we all had the courage to voice the unsaid? The mother’s extreme exhaustion, her lost sense of self, her mangled body – all the ugliness that encompasses new motherhood and is actually the most lovely part.