25 days. Only 25 days till my baby girl that I swear I just brought home turns one year old. Her first of hopefully many joyous occasions to celebrate the beautiful little human she is. I remember when some of the moms in my Momtourage would talk about their feelings of nostalgia, anxiety, sadness, joy, and disbelief all wrapped into one as their own children’s first birthdays approached. I remember thinking, “That seems a little silly, I really doubt I’ll be that way. I’m too excited for this next stage with her!”. Ha! Come on, Erica, you should know yourself better than that! Here I am, 25 days away, and sure enough all of the above feelings are amplified and have turned me into a weepy, sniveling mess. Aside from the emotion, I’ve also caught myself reflecting a lot on this first year with Tayler. My very first year as a mother. What would I do differently next time around? What surprised me most? How did it affect my marriage? In what ways did we work well, and not so well, as a parenting team? How have I grown and matured as a mother?
While I’m sure I’ll blog about several these areas, it’s the last one that is resonating strongly with me at the moment. With 25 days left until Tayler’s first birthday, I can finally say without hesitation that as a mom, I am finally comfortable in my own skin.
It started when we first found out we were going to be blessed with a child. I had my weekly chalkboard updates ready to go, and I was so eager to not only watch my bump grow, but to share our journey with family and friends as well. Rightfully so! As soon as I began our weekly pictures, however, I also began comparing my growing body with those of other women who had done so before me. I remember checking their pictures at certain weeks and thinking, “Well she looks so much smaller than I do! Am I eating too much?”. Or, “Her bump is higher than mine, what does that mean?”. It didn’t consume me by any means, but as I look back, I would love to go back and shake myself. I let comparison rob me of fully enjoying and embracing these beautiful and unique changes my body was going through as it served as the perfect home for our daughter . Ugh.
I wish I could say the comparison stopped then, but it didn’t. Over the past 11 months there have been several times I’ve gotten down on myself for my (what I assumed) was lack of mothering abilities. And many times over silly, insignificant things. Her nursery was put together better. Her baby eats every food she makes for him. She knew to do this when I didn’t have a clue. She knew to do that when I didn’t have a clue. She got her body back in 2 months. She is already going on trips with friends and I am barely making time for phone calls. The list. goes. on.
I wouldn’t consider myself an insecure person, but that whole perfectionist area of my brain had a way of taking over and leaving me with some feelings of inadequacy that should never have been there in the first place. I’ve wanted to be a mother since I was a little girl. I had quite literally waited for this period in my life for years and years. I was born to be a mother. And now that it was finally here, I wanted to do it perfectly.
With 25 days left till Tayler’s first birthday, I can finally say that as a mother, I am comfortable in my own skin and at peace with those areas I may fall a little short. Because while there are areas I can improve on, there are twice as many areas that I am an absolute rock star at. After months and months of daily conversations with my Momtourage, I’ve learned one very important thing. We all have areas we really shine in. One of the moms in my group ran a marathon at 3 months postpartum. Several moms exclusively breast fed months longer than I was able to. Some of the moms have very successful and thriving careers while still being a very present and amazing wife and mother. One of the moms is always coming up with the most interesting and engaging activities to do with her child. One of the moms cooks the most nutritious and organic food in her home. One of the moms always digs deep and really researches all the big choices she makes. One of the moms always has the perfect words and advice for every single situation. Their skills and strengths are just as unique as our children are. And boy does it make for one collectively incredible group.
I will never run a marathon 3 months postpartum. Or probably even 93 months postpartum. I might not come up with all the best activities and I might not be as well versed in vaccines. I can’t foresee myself making strictly natural and organic food for my family either. But if I’ve learned anything, its that there is not one single person on this Earth that is better suited to be Tayler’s mother than I am. Not one single person.
If I could go back to the day I found out I was pregnant and talk to myself, I would tell her that the journey I was about to embark on is the most insanely rewarding, challenging, breathtaking, and unique experience of your life. I would tell her to embrace the changes. Cherish them and own them. I would tell her that there is no one “right way” to be a mom. As long as your choices are made from a place of good intentions and whole-hearted love – you can’t go wrong. I would tell her to stop doubting herself so much. Those maternal instincts are there for a reason – if it feels right in your gut, it probably is right. I would tell her that it will appear that many moms have it more put together than you do. You don’t know what secret battles they fight, and to compare yourself to them brings about absolutely nothing productive. I would tell her that many of the decisions she will make won’t be the same ones that other moms make. And that’s OK. I would tell her its much more productive to learn from other moms than compare to other moms. If they have a strength that is something you’d like to improve on, ask them for some guidance instead of sitting there wondering how they do it. I would tell her that she was born to be a mom, and to not doubt that for a single second.
There’s no one way to be a perfect mom, but there are a million ways to be really, really great one.