I’ve said time and time again how anxiety ridden I am on a daily basis. It probably won’t surprise you to hear that during my first pregnancy I didn’t mind being 5 days past my due date because I had no idea what I was going to do with myself when the baby actually came.
There is so much pressure on moms today and with so many split opinions on important decisions you have to make for your child, you can easily be consumed by the stress. To breastfeed or formula feed? To vaccinate or not to vaccinate? Organic food? Co-sleeping? Rear facing car seats? It’s enough to make a mama scream. After the first 48 hours of being a nervous wreck, I decided to stop caring — about what other people think, that is. I know it’s hard to do, because if you choose formula over breastmilk, people will tell you how your child will be dumb, fat, and sick for the rest of their lives. If you choose to co-sleep, people will tell you you’re coddling your baby. The risks of each choice are exaggerated in such a way that a mother feels like she’s always making the wrong choice, therefore I decided to stop caring.
Though this blog was never intended to be a faith-focused blog, I have to say that my place of acceptance a mere 48 hours after Soph was born was due to my faith in God. I believe he knows how many hair are on her head as well as how many days she has to live. Regardless of what I do as a mother, he will call her home when he calls her home. Now, there is still a seriousness in my vocation as a mother in that, God entrusted me with these tiny souls to do my very best to keep them safe and healthy; but short of my very best, he is ultimately in control. So approach #1 was….
Don’t stress about the options. Do your research, try a couple different things, and find what works for you and for baby. I put emphasis on “you” because although your babe may like sleeping by your bedside in his rock’n’play, it may drive you into a crazed, sleep-deprived state. Sophie probably would have loved to sleep in our room with us, but that wasn’t what was best for both her AND I. SUre, I heard many a mother tell me about how I would have bonded with Sophie better had I kept her close by all night, but we squeezed in plenty of bonding time during those late night feedings, and it was such a relief to be able to go back to my own bed while leaving her in her crib.
Don’t try to be a perfectionist. I really wanted to be one of those moms who had a predictable schedule, the perfect stockpile of breastmilk in the freezer, all organic cotton clothes for her baby, etc… Baby’s are surprisingly simple. All they need is food, shelter, and you. They don’t need their own stylish room, they don’t need lots of toys, they don’t even need top of the line food [yes, the organic mama within me is cringing, but it’s true] They just need 100% of pure you.
Assume that you know nothing. This was the easiest part for me because I knew nothing. Despite all the books I read, blogs I scoured, and people I talked to, I knew knowing about my baby when she came, and I had enough humility to just accept that. Sure, I can’t lie, I stressed about it some times Why won’t she stop crying? Why won’t she sleep? Shloud I feed her? Let her cry it out? These are all normal, mommy worries. At some point though, you have to just accept that you don’t know. In fact, it would irk me when we would get together with family, Sophie would start crying and a relative would hand her back to me saying “Mommy knows why you’re crying… Mommy knows what you need.” Actually, no. No I don’t. Some times you’re just clueless. As long as you’re giving it your best, comforting and loving you baby, that’s all you should be expected to do. So don’t beat yourself up for not being the all-knowing being you thought you’d become when this tiny human entered the world.
Time to yourself is essential. At least, I knew it would be for me. When I give myself to another human, I give 100% When that happens, I need time to recharge so I can be able to give again when the time comes. I learned this about myself early on in my marriage and I knew it would be even more true when I became a mother. It was hard to leave my spanking new baby with a babysitter, but I needed an hour to go to the grocery store and the chiropractor with nothing but my own thoughts. I feel that this approach to parenting helped strengthen my relationship with my in-laws, as I entrusted the care of my baby many times with them. I feel that opportunities to watch their granddaughter affirmed them and was a more concrete illustration of my faith in them as loving, trustworthy people.
Every mama is different, and perhaps some of my approaches here made you cringe. That’s ok! We all require different things from life and have various ways of acquiring them. SO let’s stop the mom shaming, and embrace our different approaches. Motherhood can be such a helpful and collaborative effort among women if they feel free to share what has worked for them, but the collaboration can only thrive if we all feel safe to share our experiences without harsh judgement. 😀