Before I had my first, I had never changed a diaper.
The first few months of being a new mom was spent saying “I’m not good at this mommy thing” more times than I want to admit.
Despite having the highs of experiencing her first smile and laughs and watching her as she learned to crawl, the lows won most days (post-pregnancy hormones are real!). The 3rd hour of her non-stop crying, or the 2nd week in a row that I was unable to get her to take a nap, and all things breastfeeding broke me.
“I’m not good at this mommy thing.”
I was trying to juggle full-time stay at home mommy life with a full-time work from home job. I was keeping one hand on my baby girl, and another hand on my computer responding to client work, and neither were getting done well.
I still remember the first time we left the house together, alone. We went to the park, she was 2 weeks old. I think we lasted 1 hour at the park before I felt the intense need to return home, to my safety bubble where I felt like I was in control. My friend told me to give it another week and it will get better.
After spending all day surviving I couldn’t wait for dad to get home so he could hold her. It killed me that I was blessed with this darling girl and all I wanted was to hand her off to someone else. Someone that was better at helping her than I was.
I resented him when he was able to leave work and give her all of his attention. She laughed more when she was with him, and was happier with him than she was with me – at least that’s what I told myself when I wasn’t so good at the whole mommy thing.
I knew she needed me – I was her food source, but she wanted dad. Looking back, that was the devil talking, telling me I wasn’t good enough, and when you are sleep deprived and unshowered it’s easy to believe.
She grew older and I grew more confident. By 4 months I had the breastfeeding thing down (yes, it took me 4 months to get it!). That was big, because I wasn’t tied to the couch or feeding her in the back room, I felt as if I was slowly getting my life back to normal!
Her and I found our routines. She still didn’t take naps and became fussy on cue at 4 pm every day, but I knew her. I knew what her cries were trying to tell me. When she looked at me with those blue eyes I was confident in what she needed in that moment and was able to care for her – all by myself. I was taking it one day at a time.
“Maybe I’m not so bad at this mommy thing.”
She started solids at 6 months and somehow between the 40 minute feeding sessions every 4 hours, and naps every 3 hours, I was now supposed to find time to feed her real food. The laundry would pile up, dinner was not always on the table and I can’t remember the last time I dusted.
I often wondered if she would be better off in childcare with someone who was trained at raising kids and teaching kids. I had no idea what I was doing. She somehow learned to crawl, pull up, cruise around the house and climb onto the dishwasher – none of these I taught her.
I would hear from friends about the social interaction their kids were getting every day and the cognitive developmental activities that their kids were doing, and there I was with Lottie sitting at home listening to Baby Einstein playing with the same set of measuring cups that we played with yesterday. But I hugged her a lot during the day and I told her I loved her even more, hoping that it all balanced out.
She hit sleep regression after sleep regression and slowly the “I’m not good at this mommy thing” thoughts started to creep in again. I felt as if I was dealing with a newborn, but worse because now she had bigger lungs and a stronger will. As each one came and went, they strengthened my determination. I was more certain than ever that I could take on anything this girl would give me, with little to no sleep.
I watched her developmental milestones and read books to her as much as I could, but I was still balancing work and family – and by balancing I mean learning to type with one hand and change diapers with the other, while dinner is in the crockpot.
I learned there is no balance – something will always be left undone. My over-ambitious to do list will always be half crossed off and in order to survive this mommy thing I’ve learned to be OK with that.
“I’m pretty good at this mommy thing.”
After trying to be supermom I realized the only way to be pretty good at this mommy thing is realizing that no one is perfect at this mommy thing. No one has it down, and once you do have it down – these little people change and you become bad at it again.
There will always be more, that’s what you sign up for as a parent. To worry about her when she does pretty much anything. To feel her pain when she hurts. To fall asleep in her room when she’s afraid of the dark. To laugh at her when she tells a bad joke. To stand up for her when she doesn’t have the energy to do it herself. It’s not always fun and it’s never easy, which is why you have to wake up every morning and choose to be a parent. This daily choice will take you through every emotional extreme and leave you exhausted at the end of every day.
Being a parent is one of the most selfless, stressful and gratifying things you can do. You sign up to love for the rest of your life and in return to be loved.
Once you quit listening to growth and developmental averages, and stop comparing yourself to other mommies and babies, your own confidence goes through the roof.
At the end of the day if my baby girl is smiling and the house is a mess from playing hard then I tell myself, “I’m pretty good at this mommy thing.”