My friend was with me while we were talking and when the lady walked away she asked, "You are just a natural mom, aren't you?" I wasn't really sure how to respond so I said, "I think all of us are." And she said, "Not me. It's been 18 months and I'm still waiting." That has stuck with me for a while. A lot of thoughts and feelings have stemmed from that conversation. When I look at her with her son I see a great mom (and I told her that). He is happy, well cared for and it is evident that she is going above and beyond simply caregiver status. She is a mother and he obviously loves her vey much.
The big difference between the two of us is that Ayden was not only a planned baby, but the end of a 2 year struggle with fertility issues and a molar pregnancy. That experience was horrible to put it lightly but gave us a lot of perspective. We appreciate Ayden so much because for a little while it felt as if we'd never have a baby at all. In her scenario, her baby was not planned. She had a career and plans for her life and then her life took an unexpected turn. We are mothers from different ends of the spectrum.
What weighs heavily on me is that my love for motherhood made her own journey feel inadequate. As we discussed things further she explained that she felt bad that she gave up on breastfeeding, she likes time away from him and she doesn't always find time to do *extra* stuff for him (the types of things you find on Pinterest). I told her about the, "we compare our behind the scenes to everyone else's highlight real" quote and told her that nobody has it all together all the time, including myself. I told her that I know how hard breastfeeding can be and shared some of my plugged duct and mastitis experiences. I reassured her that babies have no idea if you made an elaborate homemade activities or just pulled some pots and pans out of the cupboard. But none of that seemed to matter. She had made up her mind about herself as a mother and was convinced she was sub-par.
On one hand, I couldn't relate with how she felt because it was so opposite from how I felt but on the other, just because I enjoy motherhood, doesn't make it any less difficult. I can totally see how, if someone wasn't ready, it could be vey hard to hit the ground running. This is the most difficult job I have ever had and it is 24/7. I have found systems that work *some* days, but there are still plenty of days where I don't get a single thing done. I saw something on Pinterest once that said that happy people don't compare themselves to others. As a mother, you can't look at how your best friend, neighbor, sister, or I handle motherhood and feel like everything we are doing that you aren't is a reflection of your failures. You have to look at the other mothers around you and realize that there are also things that you do that they don't. Maybe you make a point to take your child to the park everyday while they quickly make the fancy homemade activity then leave their child alone to play with it while they get other work done. I can tell you right here and now that my "weakness" as a mother is when Ayden is sick. Extra fussy and clingy, constant runny noses, crying in the middle of the night, etc, etc. I always thought I would be so doting but the reality is that it wears on me. Of course I understand why all of that is happening and I take care of him as I should but it doesn't make it any less easy for me.
Every mother has some area where they aren't "perfect." Even the ones who's highlight reals look pretty convincing. Just because motherhood comes naturally to some mothers doesn't make them better than those who have to work at it. We all have our areas of strength and areas of growth. Look to other mothers as inspiration but also take time to reflect on the things you do well. Because mama, you are doing great!
Do you know any mothers who could use a confidence boost?
Flashback! Here's what we were up to one year ago today: "Attitude Is Everything"
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