I was your typical pregnant woman; reading every pregnancy book known to man, avoiding all of the recommended foods (except for lunch meat…I just can’t give up sandwiches), spending every second of my free time scrolling through natural parenting blogs and websites. I looked through ridiculously long checklists of things that needed to be done before baby came (you really only need to do 1/4 of that list, by the way) and I asked a million questions from women who had children. But what I didn’t anticipate was the frequent comparison and fear I would feel of “not doing it right.”
I read countless articles from natural-mom-bloggers on how important it was to breastfeed and bond with your baby and give them the absolute best source of nutrition. I was already telling my friends that I was for sure going to nurse my baby for the first year (and I secretly looked down on those mothers who didn’t). I had very ambitious ideas that my child would immediately respond well to whatever parenting strategies I chose and I was only going to give her homemade baby food when the time came (none of that store-bought junk).
Fast forward to one month after our precious one entered the world. We were so in love and thankful for the gift that she was, but we weren’t even aware of the level of sleep deprivation that a human body could reach. My entire life became about keeping a tiny person alive and I was severely struggling with my milk supply. My baby was constantly hungry and fussy, I was so tired and sore, and I felt like I was already failing as a mother. I would listen to other new moms talk about how their baby was a “good baby” and slept through the night and hardly fussed. It made me feel horrible. I sobbed as my husband made a late night run to the pharmacy to pick up a can of formula so I could have a break. I felt like I was a bad mother for giving in and resorting to formula. The expectations I had for myself as a mother were crumbling and my crazy hormones weren’t helping.
I’m now pregnant with my third child and as I look back on those first few months of motherhood, I realize that the amount of stress and guilt I felt was completely unnecessary and that motherhood looks different for each woman. My children have been breast and formula fed. I buy food pouches at the grocery store. I let them watch TV (and in the winter it’s like…a lot). We even hit up the good ol’ Burger King once in a while when I forget to plan dinner. And you know what? I’m totally okay with it. I do my best to give my children what they need and what they need the most is a mom who isn’t stressed out about doing it all perfectly. I have learned that I am the perfect mother for my children only and that even though I will continue to fail at times, God’s grace will equip me to make the best decisions for my family and be at peace with it. I’m going to read online advice and parenting books with an open fist and remember that what works for someone else may not work for me and most importantly I’m going to remember that whether my child was fed only organic handmade baby food for the first year of their life will have very little importance when I stand before God and account for how I taught them about His love.
So here’s to you, mom. You are doing a great job. You are the perfect fit for your family. You’re going to mess up and it’s okay. Put that book down and take a deep breath. You don’t have to have all the answers (that’s what the Holy Spirit is for). And in case you forget…
Whether you give birth naturally or through a c-section… you are a good mom.
Whether you nurse until your child is three or you stop after a month… you are a good mom.
Whether your baby wakes up every hour or sleeps through the night… you are a good mom (and your baby is a good baby).
Whether you co-sleep or want an entire bed to yourself… you are a good mom.
Whether you use disposable diapers or cloth diapers… you are a good mom.
Whether you feed your baby homemade baby food or those convenient little store-bought pouches… you are a good mom.
Whether your baby needs to be held constantly or is super content and chill… you are a good mom.
Whether you stay at home or work… you are a good mom.
Whether you home school or public school… you are a good mom.
As moms we want what’s best for our children, but we forget that “best” looks different for everyone. Make a promise to yourself that you will spend less time feeling guilty and more time enjoying this incredible gift of motherhood. And maybe treat yourself to a bubble bath.