Picture this. I’m six months postpartum and sitting in my therapist‘s office. I’m frantically tracing my fingers along the blue velvety couch, twitching my left foot back and forth, and quietly explaining to her that I feel lonely. I feel out of place. Like I don’t enjoy being a mother and I’m not sure if I’m cut out for this intimidating role that I’ve stepped into.
I was scared and overwhelmed with motherhood.
I had always dreamed of being a mother, one that would live up to the amazing mother that raised me. But somehow, when I became a mom, I felt so lost in all of the tips and tricks and judgments that were being thrown at me.
When I had my first son seven years ago, Pinterest was all the craze.
It was all about who could create the cutest craft with their baby’s footprints, or who could whip up the most delicious pea puree or homemade smash cake (with no sugar or artificial food coloring).
I remember nights where I would scroll through and pick the best ideas and put them on my board, only to find that I would only mull over these ideas instead of actually executing them.
Cue the feelings of anxiety and worthlessness.
All of the information that was bombarding me as a new mom was overwhelming, to say the least. Between books I needed to be reading to the apps I needed to download about milestones, the world had the answers and I just have to find them. And this scavenger hunt for the details about motherhood can easily spiral out of control.
So circle back to that therapy appointment.
I’m sitting there, spilling my thoughts about how I’ll never be the perfect mother, and she finally says to me, “You do you, mama.” And something clicked with me that I live by every day and spread like wildfire to all the new moms that I meet. Just do what is best for you and your family, and don’t worry about what everyone else is doing.
Okay, I know. Easier said than done.
There is something good to be said about the advice that you get from your peers and medical professionals, yes. But take this advice with the firm knowledge that you know what is best for you and your family.
You know what will work in your household and what will not. Committing to sleep training or co-sleeping, cloth or disposable diapers, and breastfeeding or formula feeding. Whatever you choose, mama will be the best decision for your family.
Even as my boys have gotten older, I still feel a push from society to be a perfect mother and do ALL of the things.
As I drive past the Charleston Recreation Department sign, I am reminded that I haven’t yet enrolled them in sports this season. And as I see other children their age wearing certain clothes or having a certain bike, I’m reminded that maybe I made the wrong decisions.
No. You do you, mama.
You let those thoughts go and remind yourself that this is your family. These are your children. And whatever is working for you at this moment is enough. You are enough. Do what is best for you.
I hope to instill this mantra into my own sons’ hearts as they grow up.
Everyone is raised differently. Some people have a family that looks like ours, and others don’t. Some people believe in certain religions, and others don’t. And that is okay. In fact, that is what makes us all human.
We make decisions about our own lives and this is what makes us unique as individuals and whole as a society.
So next time you go thinking to yourself that you need to be doing more as a mother, remind yourself that what you are doing right now is what makes you YOU. How you are raising your children is your prerogative. The relationships you have with your partner and children are so unique, and comparing them to the rest of the world isn’t fair for anyone.
You do you, mama.