I don't know if I would've made it through my child's first couple of months without the help of other moms, especially those moms who had been livin' la vida mama for a while. I was lucky to have a clutch of seasoned moms on my side to cheer me on, give me pointers, and assure me that my baby didn't have some esoteric disease I learned about from watching House. Still, there are things every new mom wants a seasoned mom to know, too — both in gratitude and critique — because you don't know everything and maybe we can help you out a bit as well.
A lot of the time, a new mom is living in a really confusing, chaotic, and fragile state; physically, emotionally, and otherwise. We need help, we need guidance, and we need support. But in addition to (and perhaps above and beyond) all that, we need compassion. We need a voice — or better yet, a choir of voices — to tell us that the self-doubt we're feeling is normal but ultimately unnecessary. That we have everything we need inside of us to make it through. We need to know that we're strong enough, but that looking to others isn't a sign of weakness. We need to be heard, helped, and believed in.
I know: it's a tall order. However, day in and day out seasoned moms deliver for their newest peers (because, after all, they're moms.) But sometimes, perhaps, a different kind of help is needed than they suspect. So here are the things we might not always say in the whirling chaos of new motherhood.
The Condescending Tone Isn't Helping
Perhaps your voice has gone up about an octave and you’re smiling unnaturally big and telling me I “might want to do some research” on an issue. Or maybe you’ve just barely stopped an eye roll before starting a sentence with, “Well you know what I did…”.
Yeah, about that: I know that means you’re judging me hard, or at the very least disapprove of something and are trying to let me know without telling me directly. Words matter and so does the way we say them. I know you have a lot of thoughts — and you have a lot of experience with this whole mom business — and I want to hear them. However, when I feel like you’re shouting down at me so I can hear you from up on your high horse, I shut down and don’t hear anything.
I'm Acting Like I Know Everything Because You Intimidate Me And I Am Terrified Of Your Judgment
It’s classic overcompensation. Sorry about that and I know it’s obnoxious, and ultimately, probably laughable, because WTF do I know, right? But there’s so much pressure to look like this whole thing just comes naturally and it doesn’t, but I’ve still bought into the idea that I should already be perfect. So, I apologize, but I’d appreciate a little bit of slack on this one, too.
Just Because Something Worked For You Doesn't Mean It Will Work For Me
Every baby is different and every mom is different. Even the same mom with different kids can take wildly different approaches from one child to another. So I want to hear your tips and tricks for getting through this whole newborn thing, but I’m going to take all advice with a grain of salt and I hope you don’t take that personally (because it's not). There are a million ways to be a great mom: you’ve found what works for you and your family, but that might not be what works for me and mine.
You Were Once Just Like Me
I know it’s hard to remember back that far (even if it hasn't been very long at all), but try to dig deep and remember what it was like to feel completely lost and overwhelmed. Sympathy and kindness go a long way.
I'm Going To Have To Learn Most Of This Stuff On My Own
Sometimes you are going to give me awesome advice, and I’m going to ignore it for whatever reason only to eventually come back around to it. And whatever you said I should do is going to have been the right answer all along.
Sometimes figuring out how to mom can only ever be a completely hands-on experience, and chances are I’m going to have to learn through my own trial and error experiences. The trials and errors are actually pretty important. So go ahead and smugly think, “I told you so,” just try not to say it to me too often (once in awhile is OK, because even new moms need some humility every now and then).
You Know What A New Mom Goes Through, But You Don't Know What Exactly This New Mom Is Going Through
The beauty of new motherhood is that we’ve all been there. Overall, this time looks really similar from mom to mom. However, anything from finances to birth trauma to past trauma triggered by birth to varying levels of postpartum hormones to maternity leave to breastfeeding issues to baby’s health: the specifics can make for vastly different experiences.
Just something to be wary of as you attempt to connect with another mom about what this time is like and what she should or shouldn’t be feeling.
I Super Appreciate You Entertaining All Of My Completely Insane Questions
Seriously, having "mom talk" is invaluable and it’s awesome. I really appreciate your patience because I know so much of what’s giving me anxiety is second nature to you by now, so it all seems very rudimentary.
Things May Have Changed Since You Had Kids
Seasoned moms are amazing and wise, to be sure, but sometimes wisdom changes from generation to generation. Like, for example, baby sleep recommendations: before the early '90s experts agreed babies should be put to sleep on their tummies. Nowadays, we know that putting a baby to sleep on their back decreases cases of SIDS by more than 50 percent.
Sometimes it doesn't even take a generation for recommendations to change. Sometimes the pendulum can swing within a couple of years! We don’t judge other moms for what they did, but we’re not always going to follow the same guidelines. It’s not personal.
I Love That We Can Swap Gritty, Uncensored Birth Stories
Seriously no one else wants to hear about my second degree tears or my first postpartum poop. Not even, like, doctors or EMTs or other completely not-at-all squeamish people. But you’re all over it, and I can't tell you how much I appreciate it.
I Look Up To You, Even When I'm Caught Up In My Own Craziness
You guys are the OGs. We’d be lost without your guidance, advice, and your shoulder to cry on (we’d try to call on our own shoulder, but it’s covered in spit up and baby snot). So we might not say it all the time, probably because we’re frazzled and sleep deprived, but you’re our heroes.
I Love That We're Both In Mom Club Now
Because it’s awesome! We all have babies! We all wear the same home game uniform of comfy pants and a shirt stained with at least three body fluids! (I hear away game uniform is leggings with a fancy pattern and a tunic!)
Also we always have anything anyone could possibly need in our bags and have developed super-human hearing, and the camaraderie is incredible. The first rule of Mom Club is that you incessantly talk about mom club, especially on social media. I say screw the haters who don't want to see a dozen pictures of your kid. Too bad, so sad.
Words Of Encouragement From You Mean A Lot
Seriously, it’s like Beyoncé telling you you’ve got sweet dance moves.