It seems that no matter where you look, someone is telling you how to be the perfect mother. From books that tell you how you should put your baby to bed to how to be a sex kitten while still working off those extra pregnancy pounds.
What’s even harder is watching the social elite lose their baby fat in just weeks after giving birth, while simultaneously not losing a step in their careers.
The bottom line: Having a baby is portrayed as something you can be perfect at.
And there’s nothing I love more than striving for perfection.
So when I became pregnant, I had all of these visions of being the perfect mom.
In my day dreams I imagined being organized,
my house was spotless,
my baby loved to be where ever I put him and for as long as I put him there,
he never cried,
and overall he would sit and stare contently up at me, cooing occasionally.
My husband was relaxed and while I didn’t fetch his slippers when he came home, as I’m a modern woman you see,
I did provide a loving, quiet atmosphere for him to come home to.
Here’s where reality enters.
I’ve been a mom for almost six months and this is a bit more what my life looks like.
My house is occasionally clean. This only happens because I keep a running list of daily chores. We are very far from having a spotless house.
Keeping more than two things in my head at once is very difficult. I frantically write down everything before the idea rushes from my memory. This includes writing down: take a shower. Sad, just sad.
My child, though he is beautiful and wonderful, does not stop crying when I tell him to. Some days he’ll play quietly by himself for several blessed minutes, while other days he just wants to be held.
I have mastered the art of carrying a 15lb baby on my chest and preparing dinner, vacuuming, or doing the laundry. No problem. (enter sarcasm)
And as for that quiet atmosphere for my husband to come home to… If I can get Dragon Egg (DE) to bed before he walks in the door, there may be quiet, otherwise, it all depends on the night.
The first couple of months after DE was born he cried every night from around 6pm to 10pm.
So as a new mom and in search for support in this new life venture, I sought out books and articles about how to raise a baby. While there was occasionally something helpful, I discovered that all of the information was stressing me more than I already was and causing me to think I was this horrible mother. I started thinking: maybe I don’t have motherly instincts? Maybe I wasn’t supposed to be a mom? Maybe I should give up and just go back to work and hire a nanny to raise my kid? Am I really cut out for this?
My guilt ran deep.
Then one night as I was crying on Matthew’s shoulder (once again), apologizing to him for not being a good mother, he stopped me and reassured me that my instincts were good. That this was a new situation that would take time to adjust to. That he loved how I mothered.
I was floored. Someone thought I was a good mother?
From that point on, I stopped reading the self-help books, watching movie stars flaunt their perfect post-baby bodies, and prayed my way through my days.
I can’t say that I’m amazing at mothering, but I’m getting better every day. Simply giving me and DE a break from the need for perfection is helping. Realizing that there will be good days and bad days. That houses will constantly need to be cleaned and overall, this is only a season in my life.
This is my time to hold my baby a little longer than necessary. Sit outside and sing to him. Settle for Hamburger Helper for dinner and just soak in this season.
There will be time for big career moves and spotless homes in my future.
But for now, I’m going to go at DE’s pace and enjoy the respite from the rest of life and the need for perfection.