“The most difficult part of birth is the first year afterwards. It’s the year of travail-when the soul of a woman must birth the mother inside her. The emotional labor pains of becoming a mother are far greater than the physical pangs of birth; these are the growing surges of your heart as it pushes out selfishness and fear and makes room for sacrifice and love. It is a private and silent birth of the soul, but it is no less holy than the event of childbirth, perhaps it is even more sacred.”
THIS. This quote is everything. It sums up my experience with motherhood perfectly.
I think it’s a common misconception that all women are just born knowing how to be mothers. I don’t disagree that most women have a deep and intimate connection with their children, however, thinking we automatically know how to “mother” is false. Yes, we know our child is hungry, but the logistics of feeding him or her take practice and persistence. Yes, we know our child is upset but learning how to comfort him or her can be an art. Yes, we know our child is tired, but getting him or her to sleep is a whole different ballgame. I could go on and on with examples but, you get the drift.
We often forget that we not only give birth to a child, we are also giving birth to our new role/life/expectations. It isn’t meant to be all rainbows and sunshine. Change is HARD. Learning to live a new life is HARD. It doesn’t mean it isn’t wonderful, but it means it’s HARD. It’s emotionally messy and painful and raw.
The hardest parts of new motherhood for me were uncertainty, fear and selfishness.
Uncertainty and fear went hand in hand for me and were fueled by questions like: Am I doing this right? What if I somehow mess her up? What do other people think of me? Will she EVER sleep through the night? When will I feel like my normal self again?
Then there was the whole part of mothering where I didn’t get to do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted i.e.: selfishness. I wanted to take a nap–too bad. I wanted to eat–too bad. I wanted my old body back ASAP—nope. I needed time to myself–not today, sucka!
Bottom line: that first year of mothering was such a growing experience for me. Don’t get me wrong, it still is a growing experience, but I’ve learned to let go of some personality traits that were more damaging than they were helpful (pride, perfectionism, selfishness).
Mamas—be gentle with yourselves. Give yourself grace. You aren’t going to know all the answers and that’s okay. Talk to yourself how you would talk to a friend in a similar situation. Make time to do the things you enjoy (bake, workout, sleep, read, sing). Find your tribe because we weren’t meant to do this alone.
Here are some things that help me be the best mom I can (most days):
-Spending time with other moms (in person, online, via text)
-Spending time outside
-Spending time with family members
-Arranging playdates and outings
-Seeking professional support when needed (mental health therapists, support groups, lactation consultants, health coaches, life coaches, physical therapists, massage therapists etc.…)
-Working outside the home part-time
What part of motherhood did you struggle with? What are some ways you take care of yourself that help you be a better mom?
I’d love to hear from you in the comments!
**Some of you may be wondering why I’m not writing a lot about food—don’t worry, I will. My coaching style involves all aspects of life, not just what we eat. I am extremely passionate about mental health (hence the clinical social work licensure) as well as nutrition. I absolutely love helping moms find balance and wellness in all aspects of their lives.