Most days I’m not a confident mother. I guess you just assume you’ll know how to be a parent when the time comes but the truth is we are all just trying to figure it out as we go. I ran into a friend this week, who has several young children, and she mentioned how becoming a mother had drained her of self-confidence. I could relate completely. I can’t speak for everyone but I know that it’s been a rocky road for me since becoming a mother nearly 10 years ago.
It starts with your body, it’s no longer just yours after carrying a baby. There’s the weight gain, the stretch marks, and then the months of breastfeeding. It changes your body, and it’s forever marked by your children. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, but it’s hard for a lot of women. For myself, getting used to my “new normal” was a struggle. Clothes fit different, I felt kind of frumpy, and having a baby permanently attached to me was wonderful and a burden at times.
Then there’s the social changes. Being alone with your baby for days on end with limited sleep and social interaction is isolating. I found it really difficult in the beginning, especially in the winter when I couldn’t take a walk or a trip to the park in search of adult conversation. After not seeing friends for so long you start to wonder if you have any, or if the world has moved on without you. You can’t always attend parties or gatherings because of your baby and after a while you stop getting invited. It’s easy to feel alone.
Don’t forget about the whole “being a new parent” thing, dear god, is there anything more terrifying than being sent home with a newborn??? Everything is new. You are constantly second guessing your judgment because another person’s life is on the line (how many times did you call the pediatrician with your first child?). Every time your child gets hurt or sick, or acts up in public, or anything you wonder if it’s something you caused. So yeah, it’s easy to see why some of us feel less than confident.
I’m not sure if there’s any way to magically obtain confidence but it’s something I’m always trying to gather. I find that some days it’s there, when I’ve completed something seemingly impossible (like surviving a drill weekend and making it to a gazillion commitments on my own with three kids or made a terrific meal that 90% of my kids actually ate). I find it in those tiny victories and I try to hang onto it for the days when my kid is throwing a fit in the middle of the grocery store and I’m not sure I’m going to make it another second. I’m a firm believer in “fake it till you make it”. Do I know what I’m doing? NO. Is there a right way to be a mother? NO. Is there a one size fits all solution to parenting? NO. All we can do is love our children and care for them in the best way we know how. I learn from my mistakes everyday, and each day I hope to do a little better than the last. Just keep swimming!