It’s the day of your baby’s birth.
You’ve been anticipating this for months, years maybe. You’ve been preparing your home, putting together baby clothes, researching bottles and breastfeeding positions, and reading everything there is to know about labor and delivery.
Maybe you’re lying in a hospital bed, maybe in your own bed at home, or at a birth center. But wherever you are, you’re staring down at your new tiny baby. And instead of feeling overjoyed, you’re feeling completely overwhelmed.
“This isn’t the way I’m supposed to feel,” you think to yourself. “I’m supposed to feel happy and completely in love.” But much to your dismay, you don’t. You’re sore and exhausted and can’t quite wrap your mind around this huge life change. And as the hours and days go on, as you settle in and welcome visitors, and get to know this tiny little person, you feel more and more guilt over the fact that as much as you anticipated the arrival of your baby, you don’t feel everything you thought you’d feel.
You thought you’d feel unending excitement. You thought you’d be overwhelmed with love. You thought that the minute you gazed upon your baby’s face, you would be instantly enamored and your heart would never be the same. Instead, you’ve felt nervous and uneasy, maybe even unemotional, as you’ve begun this journey. And you wonder, were all the other moms lying? Or is there something wrong with you?
No, momma. There’s nothing wrong with you. And it’s time that the rest of us moms stop pretending that this whole motherhood thing comes easily.
It doesn’t come naturally to many moms. In fact, I think all of us would agree that being a mom is nothing like we expected. There’s nothing natural about giving everything of yourself to a little person who can give nothing back in return. It’s a challenge, sacrificing your sleep, your space, and your sanity in order to meet the needs of your child. It’s very, very hard.
When my first was born, I remember that it took until his first real smile before I felt that rush of overwhelming love. Sure, I *loved* him. I would have done anything for him. But that deep connection, that wild abandon love, it didn’t happen right away. I remember thinking there must have been something so wrong with me. And as he grew, those feelings ebbed and flowed with the seasons. It took a long time for me to learn that that was okay.
This is one of the beautiful things about motherhood. Because honestly, we aren’t always going to feel those mushy, lovey-dovey feelings for our kids. But whether we feel them or not, we get up and love them anyway. We love them through meeting their needs. We love them by answering their questions. We love them by being present and available.
Maybe it’s time we change our dialogue to the new moms in our lives.
Maybe instead of telling them that they’ll be overwhelmed with love, we tell them that it’s okay to just feel totally overwhelmed.
Maybe instead of telling them that they’ll feel the most joy they’ve ever felt, we tell them that they might be surprised and even a little scared by the different emotions that they’ll feel.
Maybe instead of telling them how natural being a mom is, we tell them that it can be hard, messy, and scary.
Maybe it’s time we tell them that no matter what they feel, no matter how hard it is, we are here to hear it all. The good, the bad, and the ugly.
No, motherhood doesn’t always come naturally. And that is okay. It is a beautiful learning journey. But we certainly don’t have to figure it all out on our own.
Let’s change the dialogue. Let’s be fair to these new mommas, and to ourselves. And let’s honor the truth of what motherhood is: beautiful, overwhelming, bigger and harder than we ever imagined.