Dear New Mom

Dear new mom and mom-to-be,

You’re not going to be perfect. Not ever.

And that’s ok because you are the perfect mom for your child.

I don’t mean that no matter what you are the perfect mom, because you can screw it up. In some ways, I promise, you will, but as long as you’re not burning your child with cigarettes, starving them, beating them, or neglecting them, then you are the perfect, flawed mom for your child. The sooner you accept that, the sooner you’ll be able to live in the enjoyment of being a parent.

It is very, very possible (as in rather likely) that at some point after having your baby you may find yourself thinking you’ve made the most terrible mistake of your life. Television, movies, and social media like to portray having a new baby as this sweet, warm, fuzzy time of bliss or a hilarious string of out of control buffoonery and don’t get me wrong, it can be all those things. The hilarity will be there, you just may not find it so funny when you’re the one living it. You’ll experience the bliss, probably. For like 5 minutes a day when the fact that you haven’t showered even after getting puked on, pooped on, peed on, had night sweats, and have been in the same maternity yoga pants and old t-shirt that you and your baby have leaked on for 3 days fades into a haze as you stare at your new baby’s closed eyes and deep breathing before you get 10 minutes with your eyes closed “sleeping when baby sleeps.” Many times, like maybe the rest of the time for a few weeks, you will wonder “what. have. I. done.” This thought will probably come around at other times too such as during a long stretch of teething, if you head back to work, when you look at your white couch covered in hot pink marker, as you plunge the toilet for the 5th time in a week, when your child mentions getting their driver’s license, occasionally when watching the news… but it isn’t likely to be quite as dominating an idea as in those first few months. Feeling like you’ve made a wonderful horrible mistake that you can’t undo is, in many ways, that new parent feeling.

Breathe deep, that new parent feeling will fade, like the new car smell. It will fade and be replaced by the slow burning but bright fire of confidence that only experience, mistakes, and surviving can ignite. The oxygen to the fragile sparks of this fire comes from recognizing that you won’t be a perfect parent and your child won’t be a perfect child. Because the only perfect anything are airbrushed images carefully selected and filtered for presentation. Not reality. You and your child are what is real.

More than a perfect parent, your child deserves one that is humbly confident enough to admit mistakes and course correct. Here’s the amazing thing, while the rest of the world may jump to remind you how perfect you should be, all you should be doing, every Pinterest idea you should be recreating for your child, your child doesn’t care. Your child now and for a long time to come, just wants you. Your attention, your experience, your understanding, your acceptance, your arms, your love, you. Fully and completely. Give them that and all your imperfections, Pinterest fails, and unfiltered authenticity will be valued for the tangible realness that is you. Give them that and you hold a mirror up for them to recognize and accept their own flaws in the safety of loving confidence that can quietly say “I am enough, you are enough.” Perfectly imperfect. Perfectly real. Perfectly you.

Drawing from a diverse background in the performing arts and midwifery, Jessica Martin-Weber supports women and families, creating spaces for open dialogue. Creator of The Leaky Boob, she co-parents her 6 daughters with her husband of 16 years.

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January 27, 2014