Yea no, this is not going to be one of those blogs with a list of the top 10 things to expect and how to properly handle them... this is real life.
I remember when I first found out I was going to be a mom. The news firstly brought me great joy in the fact that I would be a mom. Then came panic. I started reading as many books as I could about what was going to happen to me and then what would happen after I gave birth and how I could react. But this just lead to more panic. The more books I read the more contradicting opinions I heard. Each book had a different take on what my baby would do and how I should act. I wasn’t sure what to believe anymore, so I went straight to the source, and began asking other moms. This was an even bigger mistake. Every mom that I spoke to had her own way of doing things and each one was certain that their way was the right way. Being that I was young and single meant that as I got closer to my due date peoples opinions got pushed on me more and more forcefully. I had completely lost all joy of becoming a parent and was now dreading the being a mom. My daughter came early and of course every “mistake” I had made thus far was said to have been what caused this to happen. With my daughter in the NICU and family members and friends judging my every move sent me into a terrible bout of depression, intermixed most likely with normal post partum depression. I was totally lost, and I wasn’t even sure where to look to get myself found.
A month later when my daughter was aloud to come home, I had decided I had enough of being told how I was a terrible mother. I still wasn’t sure what to do, or how to go about doing it, but I knew that I loved my daughter and that she loved me back. Day by day my confidence as a mother grew, and so did my daughter. I slowly began allowing people back into our life. Each time I did though I was criticized. From the food I fed her to the way I dressed her, the naps she took, and the activities she did, not a single thing went un-criticized. It took a long time for me to get used to being told I was doing everything wrong and being able to ignore it. I had never had a job before where there was no job description, no manual, or rule book. I also never had a job before where my boss would scream and cry if I did things wrong, or you know could possibly choke to death on her own spit, and I certainly never had a job where any random stranger could come up to me and threaten to fire me or tell me I wasn’t a good fit. It was totally strange, and really hard, but like I said, I slowly got used to it.
As time went on and my daughter go older, people slowly started to back off. She hadn’t fallen off any tables and broken her skull, or burnt her hand off on a hot stove. So I guess people stopped having things to complain about, or critique much anymore. In fact, they totally switched up on me and started telling me what a wonderful child I had. How well behaved she was, and how smart, and how talented, and beautiful. It was like a total 180. I couldn’t believe it. Really, these people thought I had done something right? Now I cant take all the credit, my daughter is an amazing kid, but I’ld like to think that my parenting had something to do with how she’s growing up.
I have lots of mom friends, and I work with a lot of new moms, and I am seeing more and more that critiquing a mothers ability to be a parent is completely normal. Why? Honestly do we seriously not have anything better to do than tell others that they are wrong. We see it in politics when Republicans and Democrats fight because their way is the right way. I see it in sports when my team is the best team. I see it in medicine when this treatment is the best treatment. And while in each of these situations one individuals opinion is never the only one, there is always research, articles, lectures, and many other things to help people make their own decisions. As a parent though, there really isn’t. Like I said in the beginning, every book contradicts the last, and each person you talk to contradicts the last. There is nothing to help a new mom stand firm other than just pure confidence, and we are normally lacking this right after childbirth.
Point is when you’re expecting, you can only expect to not expect anything. Don’t expect there to be a book that will solve all your problems or answer all your questions. Don’t expect there to be just one way to do anything. Don’t expect people to respect or disrespect your decisions. Don’t expect your baby to grow the same way that any other child does. Every child, every parent, and every situation is going to be different. The most important thing I can advise you to do is to get yourself a friend who is willing to support every and any decision you make. Weather that is your significant other, or just your best friend. Find them and stick with them. There will be so many people telling you that you are doing things wrong, that you need someone to encourage even your most stupid sounding ideas. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t make mistakes as a parent. In fact just today I sent my kid to school today, when there was no school, and didn’t realize that there was no school until I called to pick her up instead of taking the bus. There are so many things that I do wrong but its ok. I may have never had a job without a manual, but I’ve also never had a boss that kissed me on the forehead when I was sick, or poured go-gurt in my armpit to wake me up to play, or sang “I love you” on repeat to me for 2 days straight.
Don’t worry. You got this. And trust me, your doing just fine.