A Moms’ Perspective by Veronica Hook

My expectations looking forward to becoming a new mom were unrealistic and unhealthy. My original, unprepared thoughts were: “This is going to be great! I get to dress them up in adorable little clothes, cuddle, have snacks, and live happily ever after! Easy Peasy!” Isn’t this what the movies and books portrayed for my generation?

I always thought that being a mom was the most treasured job in the world, and I still do! Being a mom means to put the needs of another human being first before your own. I thought it would be natural, that my instinct to care for and provide for a child would be easy. It does take a lot of work and effort. I babysat children when I was a teenager and into my twenties, so it should be simple, right? Ha! Far from it! A new mom is sleep deprived from the beginning, even before the baby is born. During pregnancy and continuing after, my body changed – I gained weight, hormones changed – I was so moody and tired all the time; habits changed mostly because I was so tired. I was not expecting these changes, yet all of this was important in producing a healthy baby/child. I was no longer in control as I had ignorantly thought to have been before. After my son was born, I was ready for life to return to normal.

Each day was tiring in its own way. A baby’s communication is extremely limited. They are not born with skills to communicate on an adult level, and my son cried so much! This then led to my own uncontrollable crying and feelings of helplessness. But we were bonding right? This is what I kept telling myself. I had this vision in my head, and I needed everything to be perfect, so I kept going.

Nursing your baby is preferred for more health benefits. This was another stressor. I thought in order to be perfect and give my baby the best, I had to nurse him perfectly. I was far from perfect in this area and since things weren’t working like they should. I had to supplement with formula. This created some negative thinking of myself as his mother.

Cloth diapers were better for a baby as well as for the environment and made the budget extend further. We tried it, and it only lasted a few days. Daddy decided to put on that cloth diaper and took our son to the grocery store to give me a break.  He came home with a wet pee stain all down the front of his new t-shirt and said we are not using cloth diapers! They leak! Haha! I didn’t really want to try cloth diapers in the first place, but again… perfection!

Six weeks of maternity leave is the standard time off and seemed like a lot of time until it was over, and during that time, along with learning to parent, we needed to find childcare. Again, perfect mattered! A homecare provider was the only way to go, again my perception of perfection! We could not afford for me to stay home and not contribute to the household income. All the other moms I was influenced by at this time were able to stay home with their children, but I was not. I was able to afford eight weeks of maternity leave, and by this point, I was ready for adult conversation and knew that would help my struggling mind to cope because I knew I was successful in my job but had not yet felt like I had mastered parenting. I felt guilty for these feelings. By the way, parenting is never mastered!

Everyone had an unsolicited opinion and/or a kind suggestion on how to make things better. I felt like I was lacking knowledge, and everyone knew more than I did. This is where I started taking everyone’s advice, opinions, etc. over my own thoughts and taking on their experiences. Afterall, I had to parent perfectly! There was too much overwhelming information ruminating in my head over the years.

The definition of “perfect” is to be completely free from faults or defects, or as close to such a condition as possible. Looking back on that time now that my son has two beautiful little girls of his own, I am realizing that I put far too much pressure on myself trying to make things “perfect” and missing the small moments that really mattered the most. Parenting is fun, ugly, energy depleting, energizing, exhilarating, and everything in between, whether you are beginning, in the midst of parenting, or preparing for empty nesting. Do the best you can! Relax! Know that it is not going to be perfect! But it will be an adventure with lots of memories! Keep growing, keep moving forward! Do not quit! It is all worth it!