Five Things New Moms Never Saw Coming
Our response to new experiences can break us or make us. As a new mom, you expect great things. You envision sweet cuddles, lullabies in the quiet of the night, and bliss around every corner. While all of these things are a part of it, the hard reality of motherhood is often far from the expectations.
I did this new mom thing twelve years ago and then again two years ago with our little “surprise” baby. I struggled through the days and weeks, sure that I would ruin my child or lose my mind. A few close friends whispered truth in my ear as I fought through colicky days and sleepless nights. Let me sit with you a while, young mom, and whisper truth to you. These struggles are normal and you will survive.
This week’s #FridayFive: Five Things New Moms Never Saw Coming (and a few things we can all learn along the way).
Feeding your child is more emotional than you can imagine.
Feeding your child will consume your thoughts in those early days. Finding the right hold, the right formula, the right nipple, the right pump—you just want to get it right. If you nurse exclusively, you need to be available around the clock. Goodbye, freedom. For those who want to breastfeed but can’t, the feeling of failure may threaten to swallow you alive. You question your worth as a mother because “the most natural thing” doesn’t come naturally. Bottle mamas may feel guilt and judgment in this “breast is best” society. There are emotional struggles no matter how you choose to feed your baby.
There is a general truth about parenting to glean here. In many situations and scenarios, there is no one right way. Breast or bottle, screens or no screens, sports or music lessons, public school or homeschool. Pray about it, ask a few trusted moms for their advice, and then go for it. Whatever you decided to do, do it with conviction and do it guilt-free. There are benefits and obstacles no matter which way you go. Don’t waste time beating yourself up. Spend that energy doing your thing well.
Lack of sleep can alter reality.
Babies equal no sleep. This is no mystery. Until you go two weeks with only ten hours of broken sleep, you cannot appreciate the mental and emotional anguish from a lack of sleep. Your sense of right and wrong feel shaky. Your emotions sit crouched on the edge of reason like a lion on the hunt. It doesn’t take much to set you off, and it takes a lot to bring you back.
Fatigue invites lies. We are most vulnerable to irrational beliefs and behaviors when we suffer from sleep-deprivation. Rest is necessary to maintain a foundation of truth. Moms, we all need sleep. We are not immune to the repercussions of fatigue just because our kids sleep ten hours a night. Log off the Facebook. Leave the dishes in the sink if you have to—just get some rest.
It can be hard to exchange your identity as a person for the title of Mom.
Your life is not your own after you have a baby. You live by someone else’s schedule and put someone else’s need first. If you decide to leave work to stay home, you lose an even bigger part of your identity. It is okay to grieve the loss. This doesn’t negate the joys of motherhood; it gives you space to get comfortable with the new you.
Conversely, don’t let go of all that you are just because you became someone’s mom. You have passions and dreams that are valid and God-given. You have gifts that are meant for use within the context of your family and in the wide, wide world. Today might not be the day to run after that dream, but don’t stop dreaming.
Your husband may not be super dad.
You have a rush of oxytocin to help you make the transition into the role of parent. Your husband, however, does not. You may be married to the man who looks forward to diaper changes and late night feedings. Or, you may be married to a man who has a firm hold on his independence which is now threatened by this new bundle of joy. Give your husband a little time and a lot of grace as he figures out how to be super dad.
Maybe your kid is ten and you are still waiting for super dad to fly onto the scene. Try to find ways to encourage the good you see in him. Praise him when he does the fatherly things. Set him up for success by edifying him in front of the kids. And pray. The Holy Spirit is the only one who can walk him through this journey to hero status.
Everyone has an opinion about how to raise a happy and healthy child.
As if the grandparents aren’t enough, you have millions of voices calling out to you, telling you how to raise your child. You will encounter passive-aggressive comments (“I bet your little feet are getting cold without any socks on!”) and flat-out aggressive comments (“That has red #40 in it and everyone knows that is the worse thing for kids!). Take what you can use from their advice and dump the rest.
Ultimately, you are the parent. God entrusted this child to you on purpose and for a purpose. Don’t give up your right to decide because someone has a “better idea” (There is a good deal of irony here that this, too, is just my opinion!).
#FridayFive Link Up
New experiences challenge us to be more than we once were. Share a new experience that caused personal growth. Or maybe it’s time to make a list of new experience you want to face head on because you are brave like that! Comment or link up your new experiences post using the button below.
Love is in the air, friends! Be sure to come back next week to share Five Winter Dates, just in time for Valentines Day!
Feature photo by Jessica Sparks Photography.