The moment I became a mom, I was bombarded with comments, advice, stories, questions and concerns from anyone and everyone. I frantically tried to make sense of it all. Was I feeding my baby too much or too little? Because so and so said to do this, but so and so said to that do. Was I holding him too much or not enough? Because I heard that I needed to do this, but I also heard I should do that. Sometimes the input was helpful, but it was mostly overwhelming and I often drove myself crazy trying to reconcile everything.
After a particularly intense session of questioning and unsolicited advice from several woman, my husband’s friend’s wife turned to me and said, “what about YOU, mama? How do you feel? I’ve heard all about the baby but I want to know about you”
This stopped me in my tracks. I honestly had not been asked about myself since I had given birth aside from the “how do you feel after delivery” type of questions. I had not been asked how I felt about this insanely crazy thing called having a baby.
This question made me really think. How have I been feeling?
Well, now that you ask… I found breastfeeding anything but magical, my body still hurts in places that I didn’t know it could hurt, my baby weight is hanging on like I’m still preggo, I have anxiety about going to sleep because I know I’m going to be interrupted a few hours later and my emotions are just generally all over the place. In response to my comments, this woman did something wonderful – she just listened. Once I started, I felt myself relax and I remember feeling so incredibly thankful for her giving me the space to vent these feelings.
I think people often fixate on trying to help new moms by filling up their conversations with parenting solutions and remedies. Or people try to commiserate with new moms so they share numerous personal parenting stories. Or, worst of all, they judge new moms and feel obligated to point out where they think the new moms are making mistakes. Don’t get me wrong, I think there is a time and place for these things (except for the judging, of course) but sometimes new moms just need… space. Space to vent and just TALK without hearing solutions, judgement or other parenting experiences.
And I haven’t even gotten to the single best thing that she said! She’s good, right?!
Are you ready for the BEST thing that she told me? The SINGLE best thing I heard as a new mom?? Here it is…. Drumroll………
“You are doing a great job.”
That ‘s it. A simple verbal pat on the back. Hey, great job. Keep it up, champ.
I can’t express how comforting it was to hear those words. I think new moms crave this type of affirmation. When you are emotionally, physically and mentally exhausted, and have no idea what you are doing as you forge into new and unfamiliar territory, a little positive reinforcement can be game-changing. It can be just what a new mom needs to hear in order to boost her confidence as she tries to tackle all that a swaddled and screaming bundle of joy can throw at her.
So to all you new moms out there…. Despite feeling overwhelmed and under-prepared, let me tell you this.
You are doing a great job.
No one is more qualified than you for this job and you are CRUSHIN’ it. Way to go.