Before I became a mom, I had a specific set of expectations I intended to meet. I wanted to stay home, make my own baby food, and utilize attachment parenting techniques. But then I had my daughter and, well, expectations be damned. As a new mom, I had to re-examine who I was and who I wanted to be. Thankfully, there are things the first six months of motherhood will teach you about yourself that will help you become the mother you've always wanted to become.
When my girl entered the world, I had no idea what I was up against. The moment I held her, however, I did have a vague feeling that maybe I wouldn't be running the show the way I planned. Turns out, I was right. During those first six months of life as a new mom, and as I slowly but surely got used to the idea that I would be forever responsible for another human being, I realized a lot about myself. Turns out, those lessons have helped me turn into the mom I always wanted to be.
Now, it's not to say I had no idea who I was when I decided to be a parent. I was a self-aware, grown-ass woman. But I was changed the moment my daughter entered my life. Motherhood does that to you, I guess. So with that in mind, here are some things my daughter's first six months of life taught me about who I am, and, perhaps more importantly, who I wanted to be.
You're Not Invincible
Before I became a mother, I thought I'd seen it all. I had endured trauma, lived in multiple places, survived heartbreak, and struggled to make ends meet. It never occurred to me that becoming a mother would make those previous hardships feel like child's play.
The day my partner and I brought our daughter home from the hospital is the day I realized that I wasn't as strong as I thought I was. There was no way I could do this whole parenthood thing without some help. This was going to be a team effort; one I couldn't shoulder entirely. It was a humbling, but necessary, experience.
You're Stronger Than You Think You Are
I may have felt over-my-head as a new parent with a screaming newborn who just refused to sleep, but those moments of doubt and weakness made me so much stronger than I ever could've been without them. I might have felt weak and insufficient, but I wasn't weak and insufficient at all. Every single day, I was able to handle whatever motherhood threw my way.
You Don't Have To Know *Exactly* What You're Doing
Knowledge is power, sure, but you don't have to know it all to be the parent your child needs you to be. In fact, everything I thought I knew went out the window when my daughter was born, and I was basically learning on the job. I was hard on myself (when I shouldn't have been) and felt like I was unprepared to be a parent (but no one is ever really "ready") but I was also doing what needed to be done, and more than adequately.
I didn't have to have all the answers. My daughter and I were figuring life out, together.
You Can Handle A Challenge
The funny thing about parenting is that you don't know what you're doing until you're doing it. Ironic, right? It was no different for me. I had no idea how to swaddle, or breastfeed, or actually be a mom (all challenging in their own right) until I was swaddling, breastfeeding, and being the mother my daughter needed.
You're Not Always Comfortable Asking For Help
As a new mom, it can be terrifying to ask for help. Personally, I thought asking for help meant admitting defeat, as if it was somehow indicitive of my parenting skills. But that "it takes a village" saying is a stereotypical saying for a reason. It's true. You have to learn to ask for help, even if it feels awkward or uncomfortable at first.
You're OK With Setting Aside Your Pride
In the end, nothing is as important as making sure your baby, and you, are cared for. So worrying about what other people think of you? Eh, that's for the birds. Caring about someone's judgment when you talk about your parenting decisions? Whatever. You've already given birth in a room filled with total strangers (and in doing so, probably pooped on a table) so who has time for pride? Not a new mom, that's for sure.
Even though the first six months of motherhood will probably knock you down a few notches, you'll eventually realize that you're enough. You're strong enough, brave enough, and capable enough to be the parent your child needs. You don't have to prove your worth as a partner, parent, or person, and your child will love you for exactly who you are.
So yes, this might feel like the hardest time of your life, but I promise: you've got this.
Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.