One of my very best friends is having her first baby in a few months and I cannot be more thrilled for her.
She is a wonderful person who is patient, kind and loving….all the components necessary for becoming an amazing mama. Soon, she will have the honor of wearing her well-deserved motherhood badge and will plunge into the ever-so-glamorous world of poop, spit-up, mommy-guilt and exhaustion.
As my friend and I gabbed about cribs, strollers, diapers and stretch marks, I began to have flashbacks about my own apprehensions about becoming a mother. When I was pregnant, the whole concept of motherhood felt very abstract to me. I had so many questions and there was so much uncertainty, it all felt very overwhelming. Rationally speaking, I knew my life was going to drastically change. I just wasn’t exactly sure what it would look like, what it would feel like and how I would adjust to my new identity. I don’t think anything could have really prepared me for my new reality and the feelings and emotions that seem to inevitably accompany motherhood.
“There is nothing like a mother’s love for her child”. I honestly thought I knew what that meant. I was deeply in love with my husband. I loved my family. But until I held my son in my arms, studying his perfect face and taking in his scent, I really had no idea. This love is so intense, so unique, so ferocious, that sometimes, I feel like I am going to explode. Of course there are times when he drives me absolutely insane, but in those few moments before bedtime when my son nestles into my nook, my heart aches with love. It’s almost indescribable.
I clearly remember my first instance of mommy-guilt. My son was about 2 months old and as I was clipping his delicate, razor-sharp finger nails, I accidentally cut too close. It took about 20 minutes for the bleeding to stop, but I was riddled with guilt. And two years later, this unique form of guilt that many of us mothers feel is still very much present in my life. I feel guilty for not spending enough time with my son, for giving him chicken fingers and fries 3 nights in a row, for rushing his bath because I am exhausted. It seems that this guilt is an inevitable part of motherhood. I have been working on trying my best to minimize this guilt and not let it consume me but it’s a work in progress!!
Being responsible for this new little human being is daunting. I found myself second guessing many decisions and was filled with self-doubt about my competency as a mother. I had heard about this “instinct” that I was supposed to follow, but for some reason I had a hard time trusting this feeling. I was petrified of making a mistake! It took me some time to realize that as a new mom, its okay to fumble and that perfection is an absolutely unfair and unrealistic expectation. The self-doubt is still present but constantly reminding myself that I am “good enough” has helped quiet that pesky voice of doubt in my head.
I have come to the conclusion that there are certain aspects of becoming a mother that just cannot be explained or quantified. And all the advice in the world could not prepare a new mother for what it’s really like……You simply have to live it.