Before I had kids, I had such high hopes for motherhood. I was going to breastfeed, only feed my kids organic produce, lose the baby weight right away, resume climbing the career ladder at work, and become President of the PTA. Spoiler alert: none of those things happened. My internal monologue was pretty hilarious in the beginning, vacillating from vaguely hopeful and encouraging to "WTF did I just do?" So if there's a list of things every hot mess mom thinks during that damn newborn phase, trust me when I say I thought them all.
I think my main problem was having so many plans for maternity leave to begin with. I wasn't able to keep up in order to meet the goals I had set for myself when I was pregnant, and, as a result, constantly felt like a major screw up. When reality doesn't meet your expectations, things get bad. It's the worst, and to make matters worse, you are trying to meet these bullsh*t expectations after growing and/or meeting a tiny, helpless stranger, and trying to figure out how to keep them alive with no sleep and waning confidence.
My internal monologue went something like this:
Me: I am going to get a sh*t ton of things done today.
Narrator: She would not, in fact, get a sh*t ton of things done.
Me: That's OK, I can do it tomorrow.
Narrator: She would not get anything done tomorrow, either.
Me: I should try on my pre-pregnancy jeans, it's not a big deal if they don't fit.
Narrator: It actually was a big deal that they didn't fit.
Me: What's the worst that can happen?
Narrator: Seriously, girl, you don't want to know.
See? You get the idea.
So, I learned early on that I wasn't destined to be a perfect mom. Fortunately, I also figured out that I am way happier as a hot mess mom than I ever was when I was trying to be perfect. I have to laugh (to keep from crying) when I think about all of the things I thought as a hot mess mom during the newborn phase, including the following:
"I'm So Tired"
There's a reason sleep deprivation is used as torture. Not getting enough sleep can impact your health, ability to function, and, in my case, your mental health. There have been plenty of times when I honestly thought I was going to die, or cry, or maybe both. And then there were the moments when I would stare at my baby, wondering why he wouldn't sleep, and then stared at the clock, calculating how many hours it would be until I my alarm went off. Being that exhausted changes you. Shudders.
I Can't Do This
I think every new mom has crises of confidence during the newborn phase. I mean, it's so hard to adjust to so much change so quickly. To make matters worse, you have to figure some pretty difficult things out while you're incredibly exhausted, and feeling like you can't do anything right. Fortunately, if you are a hot mess like me, you eventually get super comfortable making mistakes. You kind of have to. So, your thoughts change from, "I can't" to, "It's OK that I can't."
There's so much poop, you guys. I vividly remember taking my son to the store by myself for the first time, and then discovering that I forgot to pack wipes. He was strapped to a changing table far from the sinks, and there were no paper towels, either. So I carried my poop-covered baby to the sink to rinse him off, and then tried to dry him with the parts of my shirt that didn't have poop on them already. I felt pretty satisfied when I got him changed, only to have him poop again, in his last clean diaper. Sh*t.
"I'll Do It Tomorrow"
I would start each day with a to do list, which would somehow get derailed, and then think to myself, "It's OK, you are recovering from childbirth. There's always tomorrow." Yeah, I didn't get things done "tomorrow," either. I pretty much ended my maternity leave roughly 90 days behind schedule on all of the projects I wanted to complete. I learned the hard way that it's a time to recover, not a long vacation or a time to complete home improvement projects.
I really "leveled up" as hot mess mom during the newborn phase. I answered the door topless (multiple times, you guys), always had a stain on my shirt, had countless stupid fights with my partner, developed major social anxiety, never seemed to leave the house with everything I needed, and didn't manage to get enough sleep to be adequate at, well, pretty much anything. I went from "perfect mom" to complete hot mess in just 12 short weeks. FML.
"Pants Are Overrated"
I vowed to get dressed in real clothes every day during maternity leave. That vow lasted about a day. Pants suck. Leggings are life. Heck, most days, I changed into clean yoga pants or pajamas only if the baby spit up on what I was already wearing. Who needs clean clothes when you have comfortable clothes, right?
"Why Is This The Only Song I Can Remember?"
Some moms memorize the lyrics to "Rock-a-bye Baby" and "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star". My mommy brain doesn't seem able to recall lyrics anymore, except to songs that are really not baby-friendly. My child is bound to be that kid who gets sent home from school for singing "Closer or Rehab" on the playground. Whoops.
"I Don't Have To Be Perfect"
Moms are human and we don't have to be (read: cannot be) perfect. When we hold other moms (and ourselves) to impossible standards, we set a bar too high to reach. I have come to accept that I'm nowhere near perfect. I want other moms to understand that it's OK to make mistakes. Motherhood isn't a competition and when you treat it that way, no one wins.
"This Is So Different Than I Thought It Would Be"
Motherhood was so different than I thought it would be. It wasn't all bad, but during the newborn phase it became clear that my #momgoals were pretty unrealistic. I wondered, "Is it just me, or are other moms hot messes, too?" I am pretty sure that even the most put together mom is a hot mess once in a while.
"Everything Will Be Alright"
I still screw up, a lot, and things never go exactly as planned, but I've learned to embrace my hot mess status. It roll with yoga pants and messy hair and I make no apologies. I don't have to get sh*t done, have a clean kitchen, or even leave the house in real clothes to be a good mom. Most of my "hot mess moments" are basically me just being human, and it's totally OK, because moms are humans.
Check out Romper's new video series, Romper's Doula Diaries: