I watched her as she seemed so calm. He had gone to the breast effortlessly. This roly poly babe who was happy as a lark. I thought to myself, “What was wrong with me? Why were my babies so colicky? Why was nursing so hard? Why did I think having an infant was so exhausting? Why didn’t I enjoy them more?”
And then I remembered.
Because that’s my story. That’s my path of motherhood that I was meant to walk. I didn’t make my babies colicky. It was hard to accept that for a long time. If there’s one, it’s a fluke. Two, er, odd. Three… welp, must be me, I thought, clearly I don’t know how to nurture. Or soothe. Clearly my energy is negative and making them unhappy.
And then, I realized. I had not one. Not two. But three babes under the 5 pound mark. I had three babes that were early and didn’t know how to eat. I had three babes that were spitters. And that is just how they were made. It wasn’t me.
I often wonder if I should have gone on antidepressants after I had my babies. Would I have enjoyed it more? Would I have been less anxious? Would I have been more enjoyable to be around? And then I remind myself, no one diagnosed me with postpartum depression, even after I asked. None of my docs thought I was anymore anxious than any person would be given the situation. No one else saw in me what I did. But still, I was convinced I was inept as a mother.
Do you do this to yourself? Second guess your mothering? Do you see children sitting, well-behaved in the shopping cart or the booth across from you as your band of monkeys are swinging from the trees and think, I thought I was getting it right. But clearly I am not. Do you see one person’s child excelling in an area that your child doesn’t and think, I should have thrown the ball around more OR maybe I should get him in that activity or that club. Do you see someone using cloth diapers while you slap on a disposable or put the baby to the breast as you pull out your bottle and wonder, Did I just not try hard enough to do it all right? Do you watch as other kids eat their broccoli and it hasn’t even been hidden in something and think, maybe I didn’t expose them early enough. Maybe if I would have made my own baby food with every baby. Maybe. Maybe. Maybe.
Over my 8 years of motherhood, I’ve come to one conclusion. For the most part, the type of mother that we are, is just the mother that our children need. If we are talking to them. Feeding them. Clothing them. Loving them. Then we are doing what is essential. And all the other things are simply preferential.
So as I sit on my computer and they each have their half hour of electronic time post-school, I’m finally okay with it. With myself. I feel like it’s what works for us. And in the end, that’s a whole lot of what matters. Because guess what I can see now that even though they screamed. Even though I didn’t use cloth diapers. Even though I did breastfeed. Even though… even though… even though… they are each their own person. They are each just right in their own way. Those things would have happened, not because of our parenting but in spite of it.
We compare ourselves. We judge ourselves. We are our harshest critics. We second guess our choices, our decisions to work or not work. To cry out or not cry out. To send to school or not. When in reality, we need to remind ourselves as mothers, there is no wrong way as long as the decisions we are making are through love. But there are a whole lot of right ways. And the way you are doing it, is one of them.