It ends now.
“Mommy wars” and “Mommy guilt” are very real. While in some ways they are two separate things they play into each other quite nicely.
I’ve spent the last 6.5 months with this amazing little being. The biggest surprise, I tell people, is how naturally it has all come. I thought I would feel so much worry and panic and I don’t. That’s not saying there aren’t moments, but overall, I feel like we’ve got things under control. The worry really sets in when I worry about the recommendations of others and whether or not I am doing “enough”. Am I doing the right things with feeding him? Am I talking to him enough and in the correct way? We don’t read to him enough. (sidenote: props to all you parents who read nightly to your babies. Gus won’t be still and just tries to eat the books.) Am I ruining his life by working? He loves other people – does that mean I am doing something wrong that he is not more attached to us?
But you know what? I’m done with that. I’m over it. It ends now. Many people have kids and do things the way I do them or “better” or “worse” and very few of the kids turn out to be serial killers so it is probably fine. I’m wasting too much time with the worry and most of it comes from outside sources that plant doubt that I am enough. They may not mean to, sure, but my own insecurities let that doubt creep in when there is no place for it in my life.
I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about how I can support new moms. I had no idea what it meant to be a new mom and it’s a little like being hit by a train. On top of that, our support has been very minimal. We have a few friends that are super helpful and are so grateful for that but I can’t help but wonder what it would be like if we lived closer to our families. Yesterday, our friend B came over and took Gus for a walk for an hour or so while I cleaned and Lesley mowed the lawn (Lesley’s mom is coming to visit on Friday for a week so things are a little frantic). While I hated not having him with us for the small amount of time we get after work it was amazing to be able to get a few things done. I can only imagine what my life would be like if Grandma came for an hour every week so we could do this. My house would be so clean! Things like this, and the isolation that no one tells new moms about yet seems to haunt us all, the terribleness that is early breastfeeding, the sleepless nights, the worry over everything – it’s made me want to support moms.
There was this mantra before I had kids: You wouldn’t know because you’re not a mom. Now it’s still there but changed: You wouldn’t know because you have one child. You wouldn’t know because you haven’t been a mom long enough. I’m done hearing this. I am enough. My family is enough. YOU are enough and so is your family. Sure, our experiences are different. Sure, I have this one boy and you have a two littles in your arms. Sure, there’s two of us doing this parenting thing and you’re doing it on your own. Sure, Gus is hitting some milestones a bit ahead of your kiddo. Whatever. In this little community, this little corner of the internet, we’re hear to support each other. I’m here to support you. Your family. Your life. Your children in your arms and your children yet to be. This stuff is hard and we’re figuring it out.
I don’t know what supporting moms will mean. For now, I started volunteering an hour a week with an organization locally that supports new moms. I’m trying to be careful about how my words are perceived by others. I’m trying to make sure that while I do things one way, I support you doing them another. (I am pretty judgmental so that one is an effort some times. 🙂 ) I’m loving my kid. I’m loving my family. I’m doing everything I can to encourage others to do the same.