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(Un)natural mama

Eight years in. Eight years into Motherhood and only recently have I really come into my own. Just this summer I was sitting on the deck with my in-laws, and out of the blue my father-in-law said, “You know, Michelle, you’re a really great Mom.” It caught me off guard, so I sort of laughed it off, but he said again “No, I’m serious. You’re a really great Mom.” I replied with a simple “Thank-you.” His words stayed with me that night and the rest of the weekend, and for the first time in eight years, it dawned on me that I am a really good Mom.

For a long time I didn’t feel like a very good Mom at all. My transition into Motherhood was not very graceful. Being a Mother did not come naturally to me. I struggled with every single aspect of new motherhood; there were the “normal” things like adjusting to having a new tiny human around all the time that I was responsible for taking care of, accepting my post-baby body, and learning to function in a constant state of exhaustion, to the more serious things like suffering from postpartum depression, trouble bonding with my baby and dealing with colic. I didn’t like being a Mom. In fact, in those first few months of new motherhood, I actually hated it. I wondered why I had become a Mother in the first place. I doubted myself, felt inadequate and was convinced that I was not meant to be a Mother. I was also certain that I was the ONLY woman in the world who ever had these feelings.

I entered the Mommy game long before most of my friends had babies and we moved to a new town when my daughter was only two months old so I didn’t know anyone who had babies and I didn’t have anyone I could talk to. There wasn’t anyone who could relate to the way I was feeling. Most of the people that I did talk to were Mothers of older children and had either forgotten what being in the trenches of new motherhood was like, or they were very lucky, or they were lying. The only thing I ever heard other women talk about was how wonderful being a Mom was, how in love they were with their babies and how they missed being pregnant and having a newborn. I know that there are some (lucky) women who can identify with that experience, but I was bewildered, why was this so difficult for me? When I talked to these other women all it did was make me feel more inferior, more confused and like the worst person/woman/mother in the world.

As time passed I started to get used to life with a little person around, I gained a little more experience and a little more confidence and recovered from my depression and anxiety. I had more babies and became more comfortable in my role as Mommy. More and more of my friends started having babies, and the more I talked to them the more I realized that most of them had felt the exact same way as I did at one point or another. More and more I realized that the feelings of doubt, inadequacy and guilt that I had been feeling were quite normal after all. In talking to these other new mamas I was able to heal. I was able to stop punishing myself. I was able to understand that adjusting to new motherhood is an enormous feat and it is not something that happens over night. It is a gradual process of learning and growth, and every Mommy, every baby and every situation is different and beautiful and unique and the growth will develop and blossom in its own way and in its own time.

So to every new Mommy out there reading this, I want you to know that it’s ok if you feel like you are failing. Forgive yourself. Know that you are doing your best. Understand that you are learning, too. Believe that you will get through this and be a better person, a stronger woman, and an amazing Mama. Eventually, you will feel confident and you will know that you are a GREAT Mama and you are meant to be exactly where you are. You will look back on these very difficult days with a smile and you will watch your children and beam with pride and say, “Look at what I made.”

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