Dear Expecting Friend,
Congratulations! You’re expecting to bring a new life into the world in just a few months. This is such an exciting time filled with potential, and I’m sure some worry, too! From now on, you will be receiving advice, sometimes from strangers. I am going to impose upon you for a few minutes some perspectives that I have taken in over the years.
Being a mother is one of the best jobs, as well as one of the toughest. It is going to bring you some of your greatest highs, as well as some of the lowest lows. No one warned me about the lows.
Expectations can be set by TV shows, where moms portrayed by actresses who may be stay-at-home moms or moms who work full-time. Regardless, they are able to balance having a family of beautifully, mostly well-adapted children, while remaining sane themselves. These TV programs rarely show the truth, yet these images fill our minds as we embark on the journey of motherhood.
Social media glossy snap shots that portray families are often well-crafted and look good to those on the outside. These images can lead us to desire to create a perfect life for our children. Be careful, though, in aiming for perfection sometimes we miss the mark. We want the events of our children’s birth, birthdays, holidays and even daily lives to look glossy and shiny. Most often the reality is that poop, snot, vomit, spit-up and spilled food color our days. In focusing on the appearances, children’s needs may be lost in the mix.
Yes, there will be times when you will be exalted and you will feel like you are on top of the world. And there will be times where you feel like regardless of what you do it is just never enough. This is the gap between where you believe things should be and where they actually are. The gap is mired with shame and guilt. Unfortunately, perfection does not save you from this gap, though part of you believes that it will.
Instead of being perfect, strive to focus on your strengths. In my experience, motherhood can show us both where we are strong, as well as where we are weak. We often take our strengths for granted. Meanwhile, our weaknesses are often magnified under the microscope of society, as well as through the lens in which we view ourselves post-conception.
Please, be gentle with yourself as you take steps along your path. Know that you are human and super-mom is a myth (or a trumped up image). It is almost impossible to work at home or away, to have a baby to take care of, to maintain a partnership and to remain sane through it all, while getting enough sleep and making flawless decisions along the way.
So when there are tears, let them flow. Holding them back does not make you stronger, just as water weakens steel, your held back tears will weaken you at the core. Again, remember to gentle with you, this includes taking time for yourself, too!
P.S. You will never see the mother of the screaming baby in the super market, after you have experienced being her yourself.