I remember the day as if it were yesterday. I was terrified, confused, terrified, anxious, terrified, overwhelmed, terrified, exhausted, and did I mention TERRIFIED? I remember sitting and crying and wondering “what now?” But wasn’t this supposed to be one of the happiest days of my life? Why weren’t my tears actually tears of joy? I had just brought a beautiful, perfect baby boy home from the hospital, something I had always wanted to do, so why wasn’t I excited? I didn’t feel like a mother and I was worried that I would have a hard time finding the mother in me.
My first days of motherhood weren’t anything like I expected. Of course I loved my baby but there were times when that love was buried by feelings of inadequacy and my first thought when my mom left us for the first time with our son was, now what? What am I supposed to do now? And the first day my husband went back to work was even worse. I don’t think I’ve ever had a day last longer than that day.
I was confused by the feelings I was having. Nothing came easy to me. I wasn’t a natural mother. To be honest, I had never been around a baby in my life. I tried to do everything “by the book” and nothing seemed to be working out.
I remember the hours and hours of nursing and pumping and nursing and pumping and my baby screaming and screaming and not sleeping followed by me crying and crying. I remember the panic in the doctor’s office when we went in for his first check up and my sweet baby was dehydrated and had lost a lot of weight from birth. I remember the guilt. The guilt of not feeling like I was enough because physically I couldn’t give my baby what he needed and that I wanted him to have and then I remember feeling like I had to explain myself to other moms so they wouldn’t look down on me for not being “perfect”. I was only in the first weeks of motherhood I already felt as though I had failed.
I remember the long days of being home alone with my baby and how it took me a really long time to get into any sort of routine or to feel like a normal person again.
I know hormones played a big part in those emotions in the beginning but for some reason I just didn’t feel like the mother I had always seen myself being and those emotions took years to really go away. I was extremely self-conscious and compared myself to other moms constantly. I never quite felt like I was doing things “right” and to be honest I felt really lonely.
I think part of the problem for me was that I had listened to all of the voices out there telling me that I HAD to do things a certain way or I would be somehow hurting my baby. I got overwhelmed with reading reports and statistics and realizing that no matter what I chose to do or how I chose to parent, someone out there wouldn’t agree with me or would consider me “wrong” and the perfectionist inside of me couldn’t handle that.
Finding the Mother in Me
So how did that change? The change was slow coming and I’ve thought about that question a lot over the years and the only conclusion I can come to is that deep down inside, I changed. Instead of seeing myself as the mother that I thought I was “supposed” to be I allowed myself to just be me. I finally sent that “perfect” mother (that I had made up in my mind) packing with a one way ticket. I realized that I was enough and that I could give my boys enough and that realization was the only validation I needed. I don’t need to be perfect to love my children with a perfect love. They know that they mean the world to me and that’s all that counts.
When my 4th baby boy was born, I no longer felt the need to explain myself to anyone and I no longer felt the need to compare myself with other moms. I was enough, as imperfect as I am. I am enough.
To any mom who might be losing sleep worrying about whether or not you are doing things right or being enough, just remember this quote, “There is no way to be a perfect mother, but a million ways to be a good one.” We need to cut ourselves some slack and realize that our children don’t need a perfect mom to be healthy and happy. We don’t have to do things by any one particular book because there will always be a different book being written that contradicts the first. We just have to find the mother in us and learn to trust that she will try to do what’s best for her kids, even if she makes a few mistakes along the way.
Did motherhood come natural to you?
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