I am grateful for sharing my birth stories and tales of early motherhood. I am grateful for being honest and open today.
Sometimes I forget that I can make it look easy. Things are running a little smoother in our house these days but that wasn’t always the case. As I speak to more moms of little ones, I realize that I don’t talk about those early years enough as I find myself confronted with people’s perceptions of me as a mother, that I have it all together and have always had it together. I blogged about all the amusing mishaps – the tomfoolery and shenanigans – but I rarely wrote about the breakdowns, the self-doubt, the self-blame, and that nasty G-word – the guilt. I remember wondering why no one told me about how hard it was to breastfeed, the endless crying (both me and the baby), and the helplessness that accompanies it. After the hospital, you are sent on your way, without an instruction manual. Now I find myself guilty of keeping silent too.
Today I shared all the down and dirty details of my early years as a mother with a brand new mother. I talked about how hard it was in the beginning. I had no idea what I was doing. For two weeks, I cried and cursed every time I nursed my baby. The doctor scared me to death by saying how my baby was underweight and that there was cause for concern. And every night, from 6:00pm-9:00pm, my baby cried. There was nothing I could do to console her. She just cried. So I cried. I thought I was doing everything wrong. I worried that I was already dooming her to a sub-par life (and that guilt and worry continued for the next dozen years). Today my baby is taller than me and is one of the most amazing people I know. My honest confession gave some comfort that this is all normal and that everything will be ok.
As mothers, we need to tell our stories. We need to be honest about our frustrations, our failures, and our messes. When we have days that we lock ourselves in the bathroom and cry because it is all too much, we need to share it. We seasoned mothers, mothers who have been at it for decades, have a responsibility to remember those days of overwhelming exhaustion and to remember how we second guessed ourselves every step of the way. This is the story that we need to share. Let’s tell the whole truth to each other. Let’s offer support and encouragement by talking about the things we’ve been afraid to admit instead of offering advice that only offers up more opportunity for guilt.
We need to trust ourselves again. But it begins with knowing that we are not alone in this experience and these emotions. We have all been there and we are all doing the best we can.
42 days of gratitude…giving thanks to it ALL.
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