I hate the feeling.

All of the feelings of feeling like I have no idea what I’m doing.

I don’t like to get too caught up in the idea that I’m only 23 years old and the ideology that somehow that is an excuse for not being aware of every single thing my 8-month-old daughter needs at this age. I can’t seem to bury the deep insecurities that rear their ugly heads when my mother-in-law asks why I haven’t begun doing something that has been deemed pertinent to my baby’s development. I am immediately awash with this intense feeling of failure. I feel as though I’ve failed her.

At least, that’s what anxiety tells me.

The most frustrating thing is the internalized anger that follows these interactions with my fiancé’s mother, my own mother, or the other well-seasoned mothers in my life. My anxiety puts me on defense, and I feel the need to provide excuses and reasons. The overall justification for why I just simply didn’t think about something that every mother should be thinking about every single second of every single day.

I am a mess.

At night, I rise every few hours to feed her, cuddle her, kiss her, and apologize to her for my own shortcomings. For the fact that mommy is having a hard time adjusting, and when it’s time to help her advance to the next level, I am sometimes unaware of what that next level may be.

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I have the newsletters that come through and give me information about what I could and should be doing to help her further develop herself, but somehow I end up working my day away vigorously while continuing with our same prompt routine. It’s hard to keep up with it all.

As I attempt to include moments where it’s just us as a family, I feel as though there’s more I could be doing. And, of course, there is. There always is. As I’m sorely reminded every time I enter the room of a well-seasoned mother.

I am overwhelmed and flustered. I’m just trying to keep up.

But I believe in a mother’s superpowers. The ability to innately develop the wisdom and confidence in their God-given abilities over time. The ability to make it all look effortless when we all know it’s harder than we could imagine.

So I push on. I push to make sure my daughter is healthy and her smile continues to brighten the rooms of her grandmothers, aunts, and uncles. I push to ensure my daughter can live peacefully in a home filled with love and positivity and balanced by dedication and discipline. I push to show my daughter a loving relationship between her father and me so she can witness something I have only ever read about.

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I push. We push.

As I slowly, but surely grow into the mother I dream to be and believe I one day will become, I’ve learned the well-seasoned mothers (who I flail in front of so very often) didn’t become who they are overnight. You don’t wake up one day a perfect mother with a new baby. And they still aren’t perfect mothers.

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I soothe my own anxiety and negative thoughts with the knowledge that sometimes people will give you certain opinions because they wish they had done certain things differently or better when their children were young. I’ve grown grateful for the unwarranted opinions I used to cringe at, and I use them to better myself because I do intend to have more children.

When she’s older, she will develop her own understanding and meaning of what it is to nurture a child. I am sure she will forgive me for forgetting to purchase her high chair as soon as she hit six months or for being a bit shaky about when she should start eating solids. She may also struggle with the idea of baby-led weaning one day, who knows.

But she’ll understand that, though mommy didn’t always know, mommy did try her best at all times.

I continue to parent with the notion that all I can do is correct what I believe my mother didn’t do or should have done. When she is older, I can only hope my sweet baby Joy will only do her best to do better than me when she has her own little babies.

Dejah Allen

I am a writer and virtual assistant based in Atlanta, Georgia, and I just gave birth to a bundle of joy. You can find my blog Joyful Intentions on Facebook.