For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted children. But even stronger than a want, it felt like a given. To me, it seemed the normal progression to get married and have kids and I assumed it would happen in my mid-20s. But it didn’t. My husband and I, still unbeknownst to each other, focused on our careers and our finances and our independent lives. We were happily living life, but missing a huge part of what we felt was our “meant to be”. We finally crossed paths when we were in our mid-30s and my life finally felt right. But at the same time, I was scared. Scared about being “advanced maternal age” and having trouble getting pregnant, scared about losing the baby, scared of being tired all the time, scared of not being a good mom. Throughout my life, I shied away from doing certain things because I didn’t know if I would be good at it. I’ve always cared about what other people think and I knew that being a parent would be no different, but this wasn’t something that I could shy away from. As parents, and moms in particular, we get advice on parenting non-stop. You shouldn’t eat that when you’re pregnant. Make sure you work out enough, but not too much. It’s ok to have a glass of wine. It’s not okay to have a glass of wine. Natural delivery is better for the baby. Breast is best. Don’t let them cry it out. Let them cry it out. Don’t let the baby sleep in your bed. Are you going to vaccinate? And the list goes on and on. But as I get older, I realised it’s not the commentary from others that bothers me. I just let it roll off my back. It’s the constant nagging in the back of my head about something. Because there’s always something. I probably should’ve taken her to the park instead of staying indoors. I should’ve been doing laundry while she napped. I shouldn’t have kept the tv on so much yesterday. I should be working more on her language skills. I never finished her baby book and now she’s almost two and I’ve forgotten all her milestones. I don’t think she’s drinking enough water. I need to wean her from the pacifier. I probably should push back her nap time. Is she eating too much fruit? I need to be packing for our trip. Should I use anatomically correct terms for body parts?
Now don’t get me wrong – I’m one of the lucky ones that has an amazing husband that absolutely dotes on our daughter. But being a mom is simply different than being a dad and it has absolutely nothing to do with being a good parent. It has to do with the constant swirling in a mom’s head that began even before they became a mom. The doubt. The questioning. The guilt. The unknown. The constant feeling that we should be doing more of something, less of something, the shouldn’ts, the shoulds, the “I wish I had’s” and the “I have no idea’s”. We’re all just winging it. We may be judged by others, but we’re judging ourselves even more harshly. I have no idea if I’m doing it right. I have no idea if she should be talking more, eating less or sleeping more. She’s the first thing I think about when I wake up in the morning and the last thing I think about when I go to bed at night. We worry so much because we care so much.
Being a mom is a miracle and a blessing. Ask anyone that hasn’t been successful in conceiving a child, that has been successful, that has adopted, that has fostered, that has lost a child, that has had a sick child, that has become a grandmother. Dealing with miscarriages, IVF, surrogacy, adoption….the guilt and sadness of not understanding why your body is working against you or if you did something to cause it. So many want to be moms but can’t. So many want more children but can’t. We deal with so much before these sweet babies are even in our arms and all we want is the best for them. Every mom knows their own child better than anyone else. It might not be your way, or the “right” way, or the best way, but it’s their way. It’s my way. It’s our way. But I’ll continue feeling guilty about who knows what and I’ll continue questioning what I’m doing or not doing. But I also recognise the fact that she’s happy and healthy, she loves to laugh and dances constantly. If that continues, I’m doing a pretty darn good job and in the long run, very few of these nagging concerns are going to make any difference.
Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there who keep on keeping on. Take a deep breath, give your baby (big or small) a hug and a kiss and take a moment to see what you’ve accomplished. Just for a moment, stop the questioning. Stop the nagging. Stop everything and bask in the fact that you’re raising an amazing human. Congrats, mom.