I’ve often thought there should be mandatory group therapy for moms and, in particular, new moms. You see, being a mother is the best thing in the world but so, so hard, and can often make you feel isolated, especially at the beginning. And, of course, then comes the mommy guilt. You look at your beautiful wee ones and think, “How could I feel sad... or lonely... or down?” The truth is, it’s because, as women, many of us are perfectionists and, let’s face it — there’s not much room for that when you have a newborn. It’s really about survival. Perhaps on down the line you can work on honing those fine mothering skills you learned in all those books. At first, however, every new mom should get a medal of honor at the end of each day for surviving, and keeping your baby alive.
Once you begin talking to other moms, though, you realize that other moms have plenty of stories of imperfection to share. And some of it is downright funny. Of course, at the time of “the incident,” you didn’t think it was funny. You probably cried and cried until you didn’t think you had any tears left. You may have even thought of calling social services on yourself. But then you talk to others and you realize, hey, we’re all human and just doing the best we can with this thing called parenthood.
I’ll confess to you my “incident.” I was at home with my first son, as my husband was at work. It was just an ordinary day as I stumbled my way through figuring out how to take care of this eating/breathing/pooping machine that was my son. I would often nurse him using the Boppy (we all use those, right?) but I started to develop a bad habit. In fact, I’m pretty sure I knew it was a no-no, but it was just oh-so-convenient. I would lay him in the boppy to take a little snooze after I burped him, and turn the boppy around on the couch so he wouldn’t roll off. You know where I’m going with this, right?
I went in the bathroom to take a vitamin and the next thing I heard was a cry... a muffled cry, that is! I could tell something was blocking his mouth, and I went into a flop sweat as I darted around the corner. There he was, lying on the ground, face down in the carpet. It had only been a few seconds, but the shame and fear I felt lasted the whole day. It shook me to the core. I was worthless. I was unfit. I was failing.
Enter my mother, who came over later that day and noticed my face was swollen from crying. I almost didn’t tell her the story, as I was so ashamed, but when I did, she laughed and laughed. “What could possibly be funny about this?” I asked her. And then she went on to regale me about the time she didn’t strap my brother in on the changing table, and he rolled right off when she turned her back. She didn’t even pick him up! She thought he was dead so she went running and screaming into the street. Thankfully, my brother was okay (although that could explain a few things — kidding!).
The thing is, these types of things happen to us all... or nearly all of us. And it feels so much better when you know that those around you have made mistakes, too. But in the end, the bottom line is that we love our kids, and we’re doing the best we can!