The NOT SO PERFECT mom
When you first bring home your little baby and set the car seat on the living room floor, emotions flood through your veins, followed by questions needing answered. What happens next? Is she comfortable? Will she recognize her home? Will you be good enough for this precious newborn who deserves nothing less than perfect?
Babies rely on us, and all of their needs are met by our desire to care for them, driven by an intense love, love so deep it often hurts. And as brand new mom’s, we kill ourselves trying to keep the baby we grew inside us happy and content.
We feed, change, rock, bounce, and cuddle our babies to sleep until they wake up again to start the process over. At all costs of our own comfort and peace, we give everything we physically can to our newborn. As time passes, this pattern often stays the same. We feed them, change them, play with them, put them to sleep until the process starts again. And as they grow, we feed them, teach them, play with them, occupy them, put them to sleep… all day every day.
And we LOVE our children and it makes us happy to know they are happy and enjoying life. We would give anything in order for them to have everything. We strive to be their perfect parent.
But as titled, I’m the NOT SO PERFECT mom. Coming home with my daughter felt so overwhelming, is she okay? Will she sleep well tonight? Is my milk keeping her tummy full? When should I give her a bath? Is she content? I didn’t have all the answers.
The problem was, life as we know it right now is not perfect. I’m not perfect and my little girl is not perfect. She had problems such as colic and thrush. She wasn’t always comfortable. I brought her to doctors appointments and did all I could to help her, but at times we had to let time pass and just hold her in our arms. At times I had to deviate from my all natural plan and give her medicines. At two months I had to give up on the idea of exclusive breastfeeding and had to start feeding her formula. This was not in my perfect plan to say the least.
My plans while pregnant included all natural, EVERYTHING. This meant natural birth, natural skin products, natural shampoos, cloth diapers… natural and organic everything! And while somethings I did follow through on, other things I didn’t.
On top of killing myself to live up to my perfect plan, I was also trying to keep up life as we knew it prior to baby. Work, volunteering, taking care of hubby and the house… until it felt like I was slowly drowning in a pool of emotions, feeling like a failure because not only was I falling short in every one of these areas. I was missing out on the most precious, short time I had been given with a brand new baby. I divided my time and energy on so many levels, and no one was completely happy, far from the perfection I had strived for.
As my girl turned four months, I knew things had to change because my current plan was not working.
My heart was flooded by the idea of keeping life perfect, keeping it beautiful in every way shape and form. Until I was drowning in negative emotions, not living up to my dream. I had a choice to make: continue treading water, feeling overwhelmed and discouraged or change my viewpoint of what family life was supposed to be.
Time to Slow down
It was the beginning of a new year, 2017. I knew that my postpartum depression was a long, windy road ahead of me. My schedule to make everyone else happy had to slow down. This road we travel as new parents is beautiful, the most amazing experience I’ve had in life. So many mothers look back and say it was the best time in their lives and a time they miss. So as we travel down together, we learn from each other’s wrong turns and missteps.
I’m here to plead with everyone reading, take time to be less than perfect. Slow down to enjoy the ugliness in life. Calm your heart while baby cries knowing that sometimes they just need to be held. Reassure yourself that you are good enough and you’re exactly what that little baby needs, every day all day.
Now I find myself not wiping her face after every snack. I don’t always remember to brush her little teeth, daily baths don’t happen and hands don’t always get washed. I was determined to use baby gates and locks on every cabinet door. Now I just let her wander wherever and if a drawer has something she wants to play with, go for it!
I’ve relaxed to a point where we both are much happier and content with life. No longer do I struggle with what “must” happen or what things “should” look like.
Make a Date with Yourself
But sometimes we also need to take a little time for ourselves, just time for the woman inside us that isn’t only a mom. She’s a human with emotions, needing to remind herself how important she is and how valid her wants and needs are. A few ideas are listed below to give us a small, yet deserved break. Get someone to watch your baby for a few hours, just three hours! Two of which your baby will probably sleep! And drive away for true alone time.
Go home and take a bath, a hot bath with wine and bubbles, essential oils, Epsom salts, maybe a cheese and chocolate tray and a good book. Linger in the water, at least 45 minutes.
Take a mental health day, a mom day just for yourself. (Paint, read, nap, fill in the blank_____).
Schedule in a pedicure where you can sit in a massage chair and just close your eyes for a half hour.
Get a new haircut or go buy a new outfit that makes you feel sexy in your new and improved body.
Relax at a coffee shop with no baby in your arms and read a book that takes your mind somewhere else and away from your everyday thoughts.
Buy a chocolate cake to eat and sit in the grass enjoying every bite, a personalized picnic full of your favorite bites.
Schedule a massage and then head home for a small nap.
Go to the beach and close your eyes as you just listen to the waves crash and feel sand beneath your feet.
Lay out in the sunshine for the extra vitamin D.
Utilize one or more of these ideas and definitely throw in a few of your own. Make a point to schedule in a few hours a week just for your own interests and relaxation.
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We often talk about taking time out for you and your husband, keeping the love alive after a new family member is brought home, but what about remembering who you were before baby came along? It’s so important to feel beautiful again, from the inside out. Doing things that meant the world to us before, should not be shoved into a closet once baby arrives. That easel and set of paints, the instrument we used to play, the cookies we used to bake, or the journal we loved to doodle in.
These things make up the beautiful person we are, the person who makes us great mom’s! The person who our children will ultimately look up to and admire. We want our kids to enjoy their passions and develop hobbies that make them well rounded adults. We first have to be the example!
By taking this turn, changing my thinking and direction on this beautiful journey, I found the trip to be even more incredible than I ever imagined. I now see the beauty in the ugly, the wonderful in the mess, and happiness in the simple.
I’m slowing down to hear the footsteps in the hall, the I love you’s in the tired cries, and the pure contentment in the giggles. I’ve learned patience on a level I never knew existed, patience with my baby, husband, even more patience with myself.
This road of being a not so perfect mom gives me opportunities to still be me. I get to enjoy a novel rather than fold the laundry and do dishes. I get to grab a latte because I know how it makes me feel when it hits my tongue. I’m allowing myself to enjoy life as an individual while still loving my child more than myself. If had to choose, I will always choose her over my own needs. Her needs are simply more important. However, I’m not that perfect mom who doesn’t believe in self care. We each will come to our own conclusion but on my road, in my journey, on this crazy adventure, this actually makes me a better mom.