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Dear Mama

Posted Jan 03 2013 9:51pm

I met my adventure-loving, heart-stealing son face-to-face almost 14 months ago.

I loved him right away. I loved him as he was growing inside, as I felt him moving, rolling, kicking. I sang to him, talked to him, and ate in ways I thought would benefit him. I held him as soon as he was born; I could hardly believe he was right there, skin touching, even though it should have been easy to believe after 4 hours of pushing him into day light.

I marveled at his tiny toes and rocked him for hours and talked with my husband regularly about just how lucky we were (and are) to have such an amazing little kid bestowed upon us.

I have a secret, though.

The way I feel now about motherhood, about him is the way I thought I would feel when he was first laid on my chest. Nolan grew on me over the span of a year. I feel like I need to remind you that I always loved him when I say that, like maybe admitting he grew on me is saying I didn't love him enough in the beginning, that I somehow failed as a mother right off the bat.

The first year, or maybe the first 10 months (I can't remember now), were not easy. I repeated often that motherhood is or was harder, but better than I expected.

Maybe I've said that too much in writing and in person as I tried to explain away why everything about me was so different (or at least it seemed to me), why some days I couldn't remember what I was told 10 minutes ago or the only stories I had to tell were about something I'd learned about motherhood.

Sometimes it feels like there are secrets about motherhood that you aren't let into until you're living them. It's okay to voice those things. It's okay to say I had no idea how hard this would be when I signed up. It's okay to laugh about the silly things you said in a tired fog, take a real break, do something that's not baby related or say I don't know what I'm doing.

It seems silly to me that so many of us are doing the same things at the same time by ourselves- in different ways, sure, but if we're respectful of each other's choices, we should be able to do more life together, shouldn't we? I'm still working toward solutions for this one, but sometimes a simple "it's normal to feel that way" is enough to tide me over or take the edge off.

It's normal to feel like some parts of my day are mundane. Nolan can repeat the same activity over and over and over...I don't have to think his actions are interesting at every moment. ( Often, giving myself permission to feel less than thrilled means I end up transferring the energy I'd spent on fighting my feelings and carrying guilt to look for ways to enjoy the mundane parts. )

Dear Mama,

It's okay to struggle through the process of learning to be a mother.  No matter what you may think about mothers' intuition, doing anything well requires effort. Keep on truckin'. It'll pay off.

Get educated (but stop before you head starts to swim in all the parenting theories out there), and then do the best you know how to do for yourself, your child, your family. Don't worry about what anyone else thinks. (<--Not concerning myself with irrelevant opinions is a practice for me. Sometimes I am successful; sometimes I am not.)

Ignore all suggestions that you are spoiling your child by hugging, holding, or otherwise responding to their cries.

Remind yourself every day that you are equipped with whatever you need to be the right mama for your baby.

It isn't likely that one action or inaction is going to make or break you or your child's spirit. If you notice something about your parenting choices you don't like, don't panic; just move on and make the appropriate change.

All those cliches about enjoying them because time moves so fast? I'm pretty sure there's truth in there. Take time every day just to marvel at your kid.

I'm rooting for you.

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