When I had my first child 12 years ago, there was limited reading material out there. Sure, there was the standard What to Expect book, but nothing I could squeeze my arms around.
I felt different from other new moms: I did not instantly fall in love with my child. When I first looked at my baby, I felt lost, confused, and sometimes completely unhinged.
See, it took me a while to realize she was the most amazing creature on the planet. I was too ashamed to admit my feelings to anyone and couldn’t find a book around that didn’t presume a mother’s immediate, endless love for her offspring.
Since then, I’ve learned that parenting is a shit show with moments of pure brilliance thrown in. I’m no parenting expert, but here are a few of the nuggets I’ve learned along the way for those who are also struggling.
1. You don’t have to be (proverbially) prancing through sunflower fields and sketching pictures of newborns sliding down rainbows to want to have a child.
For some women, motherhood is all they have ever dreamed of, something they feel born to do. That is amazing for them. That does not mean it needs to feel the same for you in order to start a family.
2. You can want to be a mother and want to be a hundred other things simultaneously.
I’ve been there.
3. If you love your career, continue to work (even if you don’t have to).
Working mothers love their children as much as stay-at-home mothers. Just because you want the best for your child doesn’t mean you stop wanting the best for yourself.
4. There will be days you want to throw your child down a flight of stairs.
As long as you don’t actually throw them down a flight of stairs, you are doing just fine.
5. You can leave your baby sometimes.
Not alone, but in the care of your spouse or another loving adult. I traveled out of state three weeks after I had my first child to attend my best friend’s wedding. The amount of time I spent worrying and analyzing this decision was borderline psychotic.
But after all was said and done, I had an amazing time and returned to a perfectly content baby who never even knew I was gone. Plus I successfully hid one of those hospital issued pads under my bridesmaid dress, so I felt pretty accomplished.
6. You don’t have to breastfeed to have a healthy, well-adjusted baby.
Whether you decide it’s not for you or you are unable to do it, it’s your choice to make. You do not need to explain your decision to anyone.
7. You don’t need 85% of the things you think you need for your child.
You do not need a $700 stroller unless it pours you wine and tells you you’re pretty. You don’t need wipe warmers or changing tables or Diaper Genies. You will change your baby in the trunk of your car or on your carpet or in your bed. Your dog will try and eat the cold, feces-covered wipes (and eventually you will let him because it’s easier).
8. You may feel alone, but you’re not.
Motherhood is magnificent … but also scary, exhausting, thankless, and humbling. Whatever you are feeling in a moment, know there are millions of other mothers who have felt the same way. This too shall pass. You are doing better than you think, Mama.More On