As soon as those two pink lines appeared on the pregnancy test, I had the perfect vision of what I would be like as a mom. My son or daughter would arrive healthy and happy after a fully natural labor and delivery. S/he would breastfeed effortlessly until transitioning to homemade baby food. S/he would sleep soundly through the night at an earlier than expected age. All while wearing cloth diapers, I might add.
Reality set in while I was still in labor and delivery. I had planned on and prepared for a natural, unmedicated delivery of my baby. Guess what, I was exhausted (that son of mine hasn’t let me sleep since about 3 hours into labor)! I ended up with an epidural, a decision that was right for me at the time. No, it wasn’t in my birth plan but most of motherhood (the good,the bad and the ugly) isn’t planned either. It was an important lesson to learn that first day.
Fast forward and Tristan will be 8 months in less than two weeks. It’s hard to believe that he’s been around for nearly a whole year! No, my son did not effortlessly breastfeed – it took a lot of work and a couple visits with a lactation consultant to get that established. I still struggle with my willingness to continue expressing milk every working day so he that continues to be fed from the breast. I have had success with cloth diapers and making baby food, but Tristan certainly does not sleep soundly through the night! For awhile, I was feeling incredibly frustrated that breastfeeding was so much work, guilty that my circumstances don’t allow me to stay home with my son and simply inadequate for not living up to the standards that would make me a perfect mom. Frankly, at times Tristan felt like more of a burden than a joy.
We were at a friend’s Christmas party recently when a mother of school-aged boys asked how we were enjoying parenthood so far. In my response to this mom, I realized I’ve since adjusted my expectations from those initial visions of perfection. Being a mom is hard work and it often gets the best of me – as evidenced by this post. But changing my perspective on how I view Tristan and my role as his mother has helped me get a better hold on my life. Each day I choose to see my son as a blessing from God and recognize that I am divinely designed to be his momma. God created me for Tristan and Tristan for me. Nobody is better to mother my son than I am. I am perfect as Tristan’s momma.
However, I am only human so I have seized on a couple parenting truths for myself when things feel hard. These have become my mommy mantras that help me tune out the junk and remind me to remain confident in my abilities as a mother:
- It’s not fair to compare! Every child (and mother) is different.
- This too shall pass. It is only temporary.
- Only you know what is best for your child and family, so just do it.
I’ve had a lot of help in establishing my confidence to do my own thing as a mom, regardless of what everyone else thinks is best. I owe so much to Shane. I am incredibly lucky to have such a supportive spouse who constantly lifts me up and encourages me in all that I do, but especially in motherhood. I recently read this book which has provided me with a spiritual foundation for what I do. I recommend all moms check it out. (I’m currently taking part in Erin Davis’ 30 Day Mom Makeover Challenge). If only more people would view motherhood as a higher calling we wouldn’t feel so pressured to be Wonder Woman all the time. I know that I have a long way to travel in my journey as a mom. I’m sure one day I’ll look back at this post and laugh at the sheer naivete of it all, but I hope it will serve as a reminder of who I am and who I want to be as a mother. My wish for other mothers out there is to stop comparing yourself to others, you’ll always fall short of somebody else’s definition of perfect. As long as you are meeting your child’s needs to the best of your ability, you are his/her perfect mom.
I’m working on letting go of perfect. It’s more of an ongoing work-in-progress than a solitary moment in time. I do know that once I gave up on that ideal, unrealistic picture, I started having more fun and enjoying mommyhood a lot more!