In the world of raising little ones, never showering without an audience, and negotiating 4 toddler tantrums before noon, it’s easy to forget to have perspective. We know that the days are long and the years are short, but what if we stopped to be grateful? What if we stopped to remember that our lives are a beautiful mess, instead of just a mess?

A reader emailed me recently after I shared my latest post-pregnancy update, and her words have forever left an impact on my heart.

With her permission, I’m sharing her story today.

Hi Janie,

I started reading your blog a few months back, and I fell in love with it. You write really well and I love your honesty. I have been reading your “A real picture of post-pregnancy” series. Today, I read your 13-month post-pregnancy update. You see, I too have been struggling with post-baby weight. But the difference with mine is that I lost my baby when she was 3.5 months old to a rare disease called epidermolysis bullosa. So for people like me, it’s not just the baby weight that bothers me but the fact that I have all this baby weight and my baby isn’t even with me. It’s like every time I look at myself in the mirror, my extra weight is a reminder that my baby died.

I don’t know why I am writing to you about this, but it’s been really hard especially so close to her first birthday on June 10th. Nobody talks about this kind of stuff. Eight months after her death, friends are less supportive because they feel like I should have gotten over it by now.

I can tell you this, I wish my daughter were here for me to complain about how tired I am, or that all my clothes have spit-up on them, or I haven’t taken a shower in two days, or that my house is a complete mess. But everything is perfect, all for the wrong reasons. Everything is clean and organized, but my daughter is not here, her room is empty. The small extra crib I put for her by my bed is empty every night. I don’t hear her cry, or see her smile.  I have no baby clothes in the laundry and no more baby bottles to wash in the sink.  I hate that everything is so perfect without her.

There are other women like me out there, women who have to lose the baby weight without their baby around, and who have to celebrate their baby’s first birthday without the baby.

I don’t exactly know what I want to say. Just be thankful for every second with your children, with or without the baby weight, with or without a clean house, showered or not, or spit-up on your pants or not. All the mess is a reminder that your kids are with you. The perfection in my house is a reminder that my daughter is gone, and I miss her every single minute of every single day in my perfectly-clean house, showered and in clean clothes.

Fatemeh D.

Read This Before You Complain Today

Today is Fatemeh’s daughter’s first birthday, and I wanted to share her story, not only as a tribute to her, but as a celebration of her short and beautiful life. I hope that you’ve found strength, hope and beauty in her words, like I did. If you’d like to leave a message for Fatemeh, please do so in the comments section below.