So much thanks to my friend Emily Smith for sharing her thoughts on Motherhood and life with a newborn.
I am at my best as a mom when I am free to be me. "
Do you know someone who seems to be "super-mom"? That person who leaves you in awe of their boundless energy and creativity? Or the instagram-mom whose life (and kids) looks perfect in each photo? Or ever wonder how the mom with nine kids still seems perfectly sane and even happy? Do you, like me, struggle with wondering if you should be doing more or doing differently to be a better mom?
Today I am going to share the secret I am learning about being the best mom for Henry, my five month old son.
Transitioning to motherhood has been unexpectedly challenging. I've wanted to be a mom since I learned what babies were as a little girl, and I love this new role as much as I thought I would. But it is also hard. In addition to the physical exhaustion and trauma my body went through during birth, there are the mental and emotional aspects to recovery as well, which often take far longer than the body to recover. Much has been said elsewhere about "mom guilt"; our tendency to compare ourselves relentlessly and judge others based on our own beliefs or experiences.
Have you experienced this in your mothering journey yet? I often see someone and immediately think "I wish I was more like her", or "wow, she seems to have it all together", or "her life looks so pretty and perfect in her photos", or "I would be a better mom if only..." and on and on it goes. It gets exhausting if we listen to that train of thought long enough, leaving us feeling inadequate and weary.
Do you want to know the secret I'm learning?
I am at my best as a mom when I am free to be me.
When I was younger, people told me all the time how much I was like my mom. It was a compliment then, and it still is today. She is amazing - an extrovert with energy for days, is a wonderful mom and grandma, loves to be around people (and the more the merrier), throws the best parties, is creative and artistic, has the capacity to thrive with a full time job and something going on every night of the week, is generous with her time, constantly has people over, and loves to give gifts.
All of that is wonderful, but little of that describes who I am. Thus, as I grew up, I started to think there was something wrong with me. I love people, but as an introvert need alone time to recharge. I much prefer small groups to big crowds. I am terrible at gift giving (Amazon gift cards for the win!). I burn out quickly if I don't have a couple nights at home each week with nothing on the schedule. My creativity skills are slim. Our alikeness comes in that we share a passion for hosting people in our homes, a love of laughter, cooking and baking, and we happen to look and talk alike.
I know another mom who is a super-mom. She had four boys in under six years (the youngest two are twins), and is like a machine. Motherhood seems effortless for her. Super creative birthday parties, stylish clothes for the boys and herself, beautiful hair and makeup, gorgeous home, model-worthy photos, always out doing things with the kids, seemingly endless energy and life. She is amazing, really and truly!
But here is the truth: trying to be like my mom or like my super-mom friend will not make me a better mom for Henry. It will only wear me out and leave me empty because that is not who I am or how I am wired. What he needs is for me to be exactly who I am. The one who sings oldies and dances with him around the kitchen. The one who prioritizes a shower almost every day, because it helps me feel more human. The one who loves to be outside in the sunshine, but also thinks the library makes the best outing. The one who loves babywearing and breastfeeding and going to a midwife. The one who is terrible at gift giving, but great at quality time. The one who looks forward to nap time so I can recharge for a few minutes.
Does that mean we should never strive to improve? No, not at all. There is a major difference between striving to be a better you, and striving to be a different person all-together. As we continue to grow as mamas, let's remember that our kids will have the best moms when we embrace who we are rather than trying to be who we are not.
About Emily Smith
Hello, my name is Emily! I am married to Christian, new mom to our five month old son Henry and blogger over at amosaiclife.wordpress.com. Alyssa invited me to write a guest post after my recent blog on how having a newborn is like going to Panera. You can read that post here. It is all about the transition to life with an infant, learning to go slow and accept your limits in the healing process.
Autumn Alyssa, CHD is a Birth and Postpartum Doula serving women and families from Bountiful to Provo in Davis, Salt Lake & Utah Counties