As a new mom, it's pretty normal to question your capabilities on a frequent (if not daily) basis. Just like your first job or your first year of school or your first relationship or your first anything; you're not necessarily sure you know what you're doing. You have a general idea, sure, but it's still foreign. Thankfully, there are a number of little things that can give a new mom confidence, so those self-doubts are (hopefully) few and far between.
When I became a mom, I felt like I had no idea what I was doing. I am the first of my group of friends to have a child and the first in my family to have a baby since my generation was born. In this world of ready-to-fire criticism any time you do or say something even slightly controversial (whether that be breastfeeding in public or private, formula feeding instead of breastfeeding, birthing with an epidural or birthing at home with a midwife), everyone is ready and willing (and sadly, able) to tear you down and tell you how you should be parenting, and why. Coupled with the social expectations our culture places on new mothers and, well, it can be difficult to feel completely confident in your abilities, even when you know you're doing it right.
While I think it's important to voice those doubts and acknowledge that, no, motherhood isn't necessarily innate and we don't always know what we're doing all the time, it's also worth noting the times that can boost your self-confidence and make you feel like the capable parent you are. We need to take it easy on ourselves, as new mothers and as women, so know that even when you feel your lowest, you're doing a great job, mom.
Smiles And Giggles From Your Baby
Sometimes, your kid has this incredible ability to make you doubt yourself. If they're crying or throwing a tantrum or unhappy for some unavoidable reason, it's hard not to feel like you're failing.
Other times, though, your kid is the one to remind you that you're doing a great job. When they're smiling and happy and laughing and giggling and existing without a care in the world, you know you're doing it right. Sure, a kid's emotions are fickle, but when they're happy, it's probably because of you.
Good Reviews At The Doctor's
There's nothing like having an expert compliment you and tell you that your baby is healthy and you are doing a great job is a wonderful boost of confidence. Sure, your mom or partner or friends can say it, but when a professional says it, it somehow means just a little bit more (especially when it comes to your baby's health).
Full Bottles After Pumping (If You Breastfeed)
Not everyone chooses or is able to breastfeed, but if you do and are worried if you will produce enough for your baby, the ability to pump and see a full bottle (or nearly full bottle) is freakin' amazing. Suddenly, breastfeeding doesn't seem so hard or impossible and, suddenly, you feel like you have this whole motherhood thing down (if only for a moment).
Compliments From Other Moms
To have other moms praise the work you've done with your child, as opposed to criticize you, is an amazing feeling and makes you feel like you're on top of the world. Especially when that other mom is your own mom.
Compliments From Total Strangers
When strangers compliment you for something about your child, you may not take it to heart as much as someone you know, but it doesn't mean you appreciate it any less. I mean, when you think about it, these compliments really are the best.
After all, these are compliments from people who are simply observing you in the "here and now," and deciding that whatever you are doing is working. They don't have anything to gain from telling you that you're doing a great job or that your kid is well-behaved. They aren't emotionally invested in you or your reaction. You know their compliment is earnest and, in turn, you know you really are doing a great job.
Sharing Pictures Of Your Family On Social Media
Call it shallow or superficial all you want, but sometimes a simple "like" or a nice comment can go a long way. It truly can be (and usually is) the little things that give us a big boost, so if taking a selfie with your baby or sharing that family photo or bragging about the wonderful meal you made, then basking in the aftermath, will give you more confidence throughout the day, go for it, mom.
Watching Your Child Implement Something You Taught Them
Nothing reminds me that I'm doing parenthood "right," like watching my daughter succeed in something I taught her. It means that I took the time to teach her, she listened intently, and tried it until she could get it down like a boss. It means I have not only taught her the skill but also perseverance, which will help her in all aspects of her life. That is a personal success to me, and something I take so very much pride in.
Watching Your Child Make New Friends Without You
This is the best and absolute worst. On the one hand, my child is growing up and going out into the world and she doesn't need me as much as she needed me yesterday. A break is nice, to be sure, but it's also kind of sad and scary.
On the other hand, it means that I have fostered a sense of independence and self-sufficiency and that, when she does grow up and is on her own, she will be able to handle it as a well-adjusted, kind and happy adult. That's the ultimate goal, after all, so when I see moments of that potential future, I'm reminded that my parenting abilities are on point.
When you go out on a date, enjoy that time that you can spend feeling not all covered in spit up and baby food. Enjoy the time out with your partner, or with someone new, and reconnect with the parts of yourself that aren't associated with parenting. Enjoy the time out because you know that you are a fabulous mother, among many other things, and you should always feel confident in yourself.