Monday, April 23, 2018

You are doing a good job, Mama

I have always felt it is sort of strange when people tell expectant mothers how good they will be at being a mom. Even when people told me that I would think, "You don't know that. I could be awful at this!" But now, after nearly 18 months of this whole parenting thing I have realized that those people are usually right. Don't get me wrong, there are some less than great moms out there, and I have had my days. But the truth is most of us are just plugging along doing the best we can, and that is all we can do. We love our kids, and we do what we feel is best. So we will worry about things like getting the right humidifier or baby bathtub or which brand of bottles is best. We will spend hours hand stamping gold polka dots on curtains for a nursery he has yet to sleep in. We will check to make sure he is still breathing before we go to bed each night and miss him until he wakes. We will feel like our heart may explode every time he cries because motherhood runs deep, and we are doing a good job.

It is so easy for us to get caught up on things like missing naps and not enough tummy time or eating an animal cracker that he had stashed in his room for an unknown amount of time, but the reality is those little moments are not defining ones. He will not be unintelligent because he skipped a few naps, and my husband pointed out to me once that he has never known an adult who couldn't hold their head up because mom didn't enforce tummy time. That animal cracker? It is better than when he leaned over and licked the grocery cart handle because I left the cart cover in the van. Everything seems so big when you are in the moment, but remember that you are doing a good job.

When you start to worry about your newborn getting off schedule or holding her too much or clipping her tiny fingernails, you are doing a good job. You are worrying about what is the very best for her. You are trying to give her the very best chance of growing and developing into a smart, well-adjusted human being. You don't want to clip her little finger off because even though you don't know anyone who has actually done that, it seems like a reasonable fear in the moment. You are navigating a huge life altering event, insane things happening to your body, and taking care of the most precious gift you have ever received on much less sleep than normal. And you are doing a good job.

 When you drop the baby off at his grandma's because you have been home with him for weeks without a break, you are doing a good job. It is hard. It is hard to never get a break, and it is hard to leave him. You feel guilty. You genuinely miss him. But it is okay to eat your lunch on the couch and watch your favorite show just because no one is trying to eat things off your plate and you can. It is okay if you just need some mama time and only hit the high spots on your cleaning day because taking care of yourself is sometimes the best thing you can do for your child and your spouse. You know that little person needs you at your best, and you are doing a good job to give them the best you have to offer.

When you have to go to work while someone else cares for a sick kiddo, and you can only check in on your breaks to get updates on fevers and puke counts, you are doing a good job. You are using your resources wisely, and even though you want to be there and wear all the hats, you are aware that you are only one person. That realization gives you power and gives your child the knowledge and comfort that they have many people to love and take care of them. They don't think mom shortchanged them. They think they got a bonus when grandma picked them up from school and spoiled them until you got home. Your child is happy and healthy, and you are doing a good job.

Just like all moms I have had my good days and bad days. One day is mostly battles, and another is a long afternoon nap for Henry and sweet kisses and playing outside and giggles at bath. You win some, you lose some. But really, in motherhood you are just winning...even when it doesn't feel like it. Even on those hard days when you are crying because he just won't sleep and you tell him he is making you crazy even though he doesn't understand, and you eat two Little Debbie cakes and worry that he won't be smart because he doesn't sleep enough for proper brain development...even on those days, you are doing a good job.

God knew the attributes your child would need in a mama. You were designed to meet his or her needs. You will continue to give him or her the best of you everyday, make mistakes, and get back up and try again tomorrow. And you are doing a good job.


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