I hope to be a second-time mother within a few years, but I am still a first-time mama. I have a toddler and no infant. There is this understanding in the parenting world that peace, confidence, and understanding follows the birth of your second child. It’s so common, it’s become a commercial joke. First-time moms use classical music and flashcards; second-time moms use pots and pans and rock music.
But let’s talk about the darker side. First-time moms are anxious. Their want to do best by their child is no different from veteran moms, but they’re in new territory. When their toddler melts down in the grocery store, screaming for all the world to hear, their eyes tear up. Their heads go down. And often, they give in to demands so that Judgy Jammie Pants would stop giving them the side eye. If you’re me, you apologize profusely to anyone that even seems to be glancing your chaotic way. You may find yourself praying for the day you’ve got your second and you just don’t carethat Grumpy Cat Lady just told you to shut your kid up. You may be wishing for this stage to just be over.
But I’ve got a secret: you can take your mama confidence now. You don’t have to wait for the second baby to gain the mythical confidence and courage. That second bundle of joy doesn’t poop some magic Supermama Dust. What happens, instead, is that you begin to own it. You own your parenting. You own how fiercely you love your children. You own your right (and theirs) to exist, to feel, and to be in places with other people. And somewhere along the line, your priorities shift from politeness and pride to courage and your family.
You see, I know you don’t have to wait, because without the second little infant my flip switched. A couple of months ago, my toddler had an epic freaking fit in aisle 8. And I mean epic. I was secretly impressed with her ability to feel so much and have zero ability to filter it. And the next aisle over, all joking aside, I heard shouted, “My GOD! Shut that kid up.” First-time mom me? Yeah, she would have ducked her head and figured out some way she hadn’t tried to get her to quiet down. But the Bear switch happened. I wasn’t mortified. And I wasn’t going to be shamed by a coward in the next aisle. I shouted back, “Excuse me?”
Then it switched back off. I prayed I could get through the rest of the trip with a quiet toddler. I just wanted to go home. My eyes? You guessed it. They filled with tears.
Fast-forward to present day. Tiny did wonderfully in the store. No meltdowns. No screaming. Giggles and patience were the names of the game. Then it got to check out where the suckers are right at eye level. “Sucker, Mama?” Sure, why not? She’s been fantastic. She deserves a little reward. I responded, “Sure, sweetie. But two minutes. We have to buy it first.” Whoops. Toddlers don’t have any kind of patience when it comes to suckers—at least, mine certainly doesn’t. She threw her tablet. She screamed no. And I put the dang sucker back. She wasn’t going to act like that and be rewarded. She wasn’t going to get a sucker just so she’d be quiet and not scream the rest of check out. Nope. I’m not going to raise a toddler to be the entitled little jerk face her kinder teacher dreads. So, with a straight spine, and confidence, I let her scream. I didn’t glance around to see if anyone judged me. I didn’t duck my head and load our bags more quickly. I let her sit in the no, continually explained why she couldn’t have the sucker, and she calmed before we left.
Take that confidence, first-time mama. Own your motherhood. Own your parenting. As one of my gym class instructors says, “You can, and you will.” And you’ll do it again. I’m not saying you won’t have embarrassing moments. I’m not saying that you’ll always be able to own it. I’m just saying try. Because you can, and you will. You’ve got this, Mama.