Today you get to hear from Lea - my best friend and resident pediatrician, counselor, and "talk me off the ledge-er." Her words are especially special to me because they are words I have personally held on to through my own journey as a new mom... Although we live hundreds of miles apart, Lea's little boy Jonathan was born just six weeks before Sam; so, thanks to the beauty of cell phones and emails, she has been my "guide," always just a few steps ahead of me and significantly calmer than me. ;) I'm honored to share some of her mommy-wisdom with you all today...Dear New Mommy,
Seriously. You rock at being a mom.
Those earliest days at home with your little one are so so precious. And so so hard. The learning curve is steep (luckily)...
I remember in the early days of marriage, every single Saturday morning I would have a breakdown because I would wake up and our teensy apartment would be a mess and I would experience an overwhelming urge to clean it up, while also experiencing tremendous guilt that I am a bad wife for not keeping our home clean. Sweet hubby, after months of this routine, sat me down to talk about these weekly freak-outs. When he realized that I felt like I was not being a "good wife" when I saw our house all messy, he gently reminded me that I was no one's wife but his, and so in order to be a "good" wife, I only needed to be a good wife to him. (ie, He didn't care about a clean house; therefore, a good wife to him didn't equal a neat freak. Emphasis on the freak in this case.) I didn't need to conform to anyone else's standards, including my own preconceived notions. I just had to love him, and learn about him so that I could love him more.
|First day face to face.|
When my son was born, almost a year ago, I had to learn this lesson all over again. I had all these thoughts about what a mommy should be and do. After a few weeks of feeling like a failure every time things didn't go how I thought they should, I had to stop and revamp my thinking. Talking with Jon (again! What would I do without this guy?!) helped me see that the only mama that baby Jonathan needed was ME. And that he didn't want a mama that went by all the books or one who would be the best mama for another baby--he just wanted me to love him, and learn about him so I could care for him better.
Relearning that lesson in the context of motherhood was the most important one for me in the early days, and has made for a much happier first year. Listen up, new mommy: You are the BEST mommy your baby could ask for, and all you have to do is accept it and live it.
Once I let that lesson really sink in, I was able to be the mama I was made to be. In the weeks up to this point, I found myself wrestling between wanting to do what my heart knew was right and doing what I thought other people would advise. That dilemma was solved once I decided to be the best mama for my baby. I was freed up to trust my intuition. My mama-gut was already so tuned into this child; I just had to shut my yacky head up and listen. Heck, my body could even point me in the right direction--if I listened right, it was telling me when to nurse, when to rest, when to eat, when to cry myself into a big blubbery mess. This "body-knowing" really makes sense if you think about it; I had, after all, carried this kid inside me for nine months. Surely my physical being knows him pretty well, eh?
Once I became freed up to be the best mama for my baby, then I was able to abide by the number one commandment of mommying: thou shalt not compare. Easier said than done, but oh so important! I've had to repeat a little mantra to myself whenever I feel the comparison creeping in (I am a good mommy. My baby is right where he needs to be. I am a good mommy. breathe in, breathe out. Repeat.). And you know what I mean by compare. It does not mean don't talk to your friends about their babies and swap stories of ups and downs. It means don't let that little comparing voice come up while you're swapping the stories. It means don't let the envy bug bite you on the butt. It means that while you're talking to your friend, open up the space in the conversation for her and her baby to be where they're at, while you and your baby are at your place. That yucky comparison place happens when we allow other situations to crowd out that mama-intuition so ingrained in each of us. Don't let it happen. Feel free to compare, but don't compare.
|Me and my bud. We've come a long way since that hospital room! :)|
In this past eleven months of learning about Jonathan as a baby and myself as his mommy, each of these lessons has been forgotten and relearned several times. Just when I think I got the hang of things... you know how it goes. Isn't that the story of our lives, mamas? It's especially true the first year, that I can tell you for sure.
Hey, new (or not-so-new) mama, thanks for reading my little thoughts about this BIG time in life. I'm thankful for YOU, for being able to connect with you through this most incredible mama-bond. We are all in this together.
Lea blogs about her family, her faith, and her career as a Pediatriac Physician's Assistant in Littleton, Colorado at Buck, Buck, Goose. Be sure to check out her series "Medical Mondays" where she blends her professional knowledge and her personal experience to tackle all the issues we new moms are stressing over - like constipation, teething, and crying-it-out. Oh the joy!
Don't forget, tomorrow's the big day. I'll have my Letter to New Moms link-up rarin' to go mid-day. I'm really excited to hear from mamas of all types - remember, you don't have to have a baby to be a mom - with all different stories... See you then!