Becoming a new mom is one of the most mind-blowing experiences that we will experience in our lifetime. This time can also be emotional, sleepless, hormonal, overwhelming, joyful, astounding, and the list goes on. Most likely as a new mom, you will have so many people offering you advice and telling you what “they did”. This can be bittersweet. Before you get down on yourself, please know there is NO answer to perfect mothering, and there is NO perfect mom or parent.
From The Outside In
This last year I became a new Aunt to a totally and completely adorable baby boy named Bennett. So, for the first time ever, I also have gotten to really watch from the outside looking in. To see how chaotic and jubilant all of this can be for a new mom. I also felt the anxiety from all the advice I overheard her being given. I tried to only offer advice when asked. But, it was especially funny listening to the change of advice based on generations.
My 93-year-old grandmother would talk about how her mother had 8 children, all of which my great grandmother had at their home. And after the baby was born she would wrap them in blanket and sit in front of the fire to get warm. Can you imagine the look on the face of a new mom in 2018 hearing, then contemplating that story?
I have the blessed job of handling newborns nearly every day, watching both the new moms and the experienced learn the art of parenting. While my glimpse into my client’s and new mom’s lives only a few hours during our session and a short while during their viewing. It’s fun for me to watch the new moms evolve into experience parents at mile stone sessions, follow up family sessions, or when that next little one arrives and their journey starts again.
First of the things I highly recommend you do not do, is compare yourself to other mothers. The great Theodore Roosevelt said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” There is no seamless mothering or parenting.
I know after I had my now eight-year-old, I had some acquaintances who always made me feel less than them. I remember being asked why I was feeding my baby Gerber Baby peas from a jar? Only to have that parent tell me she grew her own vegetables, in her huge garden and she made her own baby food fresh. She also canned her left overs in her own baby cans. I remember thinking, “what?, How?, Wow, I must be a real mess, I can’t find time to shower let alone set aside to garden. It made me feel about two inches tall. And for reference I really wasn’t even a “new mom”, this was my third child and although there’s a bit of a gap between the oldest and the youngest. Today, I would say, “good for you and more power to you.” But, at the time being a new mom again, I didn’t feel as though I was getting adequate sleep, my yoga pants were covered in spit up, and my whole life had changed.
Relax and the Balance will come…
A little note on new mom – life balance. If someone has got the whole balance thing perfected, please put me in touch with them! I have three children, my oldest being 22 and I have been searching for motherly – life balance for 22 years. You need to know, it is O.k. to have a messy house, messy car, messy hair, or even spit up on your shirt.
When you become a new mom or parent, you feel like you have the world on your shoulders, and that is a lot to carry. That new baby is your responsibility and your whole world. But remember why you started this journey. Relax and enjoy it, I promise you can let go of your over sensitivities, you won’t break, hurt, or damage your baby. You’re a new mom, and its ok to be late or a mess, just relax and life will flow more naturally!
One of the things most people will not share with you. Is that the minute that little peanut is born and you’re a new mom, you also get this new giant mass in your stomach called, “mom guilt.” With mom guilt you are not alone. In the beginning it starts with something as little as, taking a bath while your husband watches the baby. Running to the grocery store, while grandma sits, enjoys, and watches her new grandbaby. These almost always moments that start to cause mom guilt, new moms beware, but not afraid!
My own Mom guilt
My youngest was born December 23rd. Yes, two days before Christmas! And they sent me home on Christmas eve morning. I had gotten zero sleep and my hormones were raging. I remember the struggle of walking in the door excited to finally be alone with my new baby and my husband. But also wanting to sleep. “I mean I shouldn’t want to sleep, right? Being a new mom and all. Besides what new mom choses sleep over her new baby? Ohh, and by the way, it’s Christmas and we must be to my mom’s in a few hours. You can sleep as much as you want when you die, right? “
These are the ridiculous thoughts that raced through my way to exhausted head.
What is O.k.?
It is O.k. to say yes when your husband offers to watch the baby so you can take a nap.
You can. to say yes to the family member that offers to cook your dinner.
Sometimes it is even O.k. to lock yourself in the bathroom to either bathe, or to even cry.
(Of course, while someone is watching your baby.)
DOES IT GO AWAY
Also know, the new mom guilt, at least in my case, doesn’t ever go away. My youngest will look at me and say, “you have to work? Why? I want you to not work and to play with me.” And my instant reaction is to feel guilty. Sometimes I have to put myself in check, remind myself that logically not only do I have to work, but I love my work, and it’s O.k. to love both my work and my daughter. I have learned if I don’t take care of myself, it is nearly impossible to take care of others.
I am not an expert by any means, I am just a mother of three children, as well as a photographer of pregnant moms to be, new moms with newborn babies, moms with children, and families. All of this information is based on information my own experiences or in some cases those with whom I have crossed paths.
To all the new moms and experienced mothers out there, be good to yourself. You are a good mom, new mom or not.