The transition to motherhood is beyond anticipation. We can try as we may to prepare, but – really – it is within the experience that we learn all about mothering. Read all the books and articles you want. Gathering information and various pieces of knowledge cannot hurt. Listen to the advice everyone is eager to share with you. From the stranger in the grocery store to your best friend who doesn’t have children of her own – they all have ideas you need to hear. File them all away and be open to make your own assessments, figure out your individual needs, and define your personal values.
Motherhood brings out paradoxes that permeate life. We must stand confidently in our decisions about how to raise our child, yet most of us have no educational training in parenting. We have to pretend we know what we are doing in moments when we are most unsure of ourselves.
The first weeks after our baby comes home, we are soaring on adrenalin. I’m doing great, we tell our friends, I love it. Tired? No, I’m not tired, we insist. But the overflow of love is exhausting, and the sleepless nights become taxing. The responsibility is incredible, and self-doubt always lurks behind the scenes.
As new mothers, we want to do it all. We take advantage of baby’s frequent naps to get the laundry done, prepare dinner, and keep the house clean. Feeding time becomes time to return phone calls or read the next baby book we bought at the bookstore. We ease into the role of multi-tasking, never again to do only one thing at a time.
But, a mother must realize there is no one answer to any question. And while we stand solidly in our decisions, we must also be willing to change our minds. We must learn to accept unsolicited and solicited information and discern where in our lives it might fit in.
We must learn to be open with our friends and our partners. “Hitting the wall” is okay and will recur again and again throughout motherhood. We must not fear asking for help no matter if it is to take a nap, ask a friend to pick up a few groceries, or to say yes to the neighbor who offered to bring dinner. It takes a village to help a woman ease gently into motherhood. Welcome the help and the new connections with knowing women.
Surrender to the fact that you won’t always get it done. It’s okay to leave dishes in the sink overnight. You can serve your husband a turkey sandwich for dinner without feeling guilty. And, phone calls can wait until another time. Learn to prioritize, to budget your time, and to include me-time in your daily schedule. That is one thing a mom should never sacrifice.
The entryway into motherhood is miraculous and life changing. The anticipation is exhilarating, and our preparation is often excessive. The experience of motherhood cannot be summed up in properly fitting words except to say it is beyond…..