Courtesy of Steph Montgomery

Yes, You Can Handle This Whole Parenting Thing & These 21 Moms Can Prove It

Most of us parents can remember the moment we became responsible for another human being. I mean, it's kind of a big deal, right? But what about the moment you knew you could handle being a parent? In my experience, rarely do the two coincide. I pretty much spent the first few months of my daughter's life thinking, "I can't do this." Things got easier, to be sure, but just when I started to figure one thing out, life would throw me a curve ball and the thing that worked to get her to sleep, to eat, or stop crying, would change. Parenting is definitely not for the faint of heart. Most of the time I wasn't really confident as a parent. Honestly, I am still a hot mess most of the time, so I guess some things never really change.

The moment when I realized I could do this parenting thing came years after I actually became someone's mom, and at the time I didn't think it was my best parenting moment. I had left my husband of more than a decade. After staying with my parents for a few weeks to get my bearings, I moved into my own place with my baby and my 4-year-old. I had no confidence and no idea if I was going to make it as a single mom. I had no idea how I was going to get through bedtime, let alone raising two kids by myself, but I did it. It wasn't pretty, sure, but I did it. And as I was sitting on my couch letting the 4-year-old watch Netflix while my baby fell asleep in my arms, I had a random moment of peace and thought to myself, "I can totally do this." That was my moment.

In my conversations with other moms, it seems like this moment of clarity and confidence is different for everyone — some knew right away, and others still aren't so sure they will ever have that moment. It's clear that parenting is hard AF, and most of us are just along for the ride. It's important to remember that even if you aren't a "perfect parent," or don't feel confident in your parenting ability, you are probably doing just fine. Keep that in mind as you read the moment other moms felt confident as parents, and keep on the look out for your own moment. I promised, eventually, it will come.


"My son was 3-days-old and he started choking while lying in his cot. My mother and husband freaked out, but I remained calm. I picked him up and patted his back until he caught his breath. The whole scenario lasted maybe 10 seconds, but in those moments that followed I truly felt like a mother, and knew that regardless of the situation I was more than capable to handle whatever would happen regarding my children."


"For me, there are still lots and lots of days I wonder if I'm actually cut out for this parenting thing. [My daughter] is 2.5-years-old, so things are getting a little easier every day, but even the days I can't actually handle parenting, seeing my daughter slowly turn into the articulate, compassionate, talented little mini-woman makes it all worth it."


"I knew I could handle this whole parenting thing when I moved into my own apartment with my 4-year-old and 1-year-old, while going through a divorce, and I didn't lose my sh*t."


"My husband is a recovering alcoholic. When our baby was 2 months-old, he totaled my car and got a traumatic brain injury. In the hospital, I told him he needed to get his sh*t together, or I was walking away. I had said it so many times before, but that day, with my brand new baby in my arms thinking about the life I wanted him to have, I meant it. While I'm grateful that he took it seriously, and is working hard to stay sober, I now know that I have the strength to walk away if it will be what is best for my son. To me, that's what it means to be a parent: to do something that will tear you apart if that's what it takes to give your child the life they deserve."


"When I joined the military, before I had a kid. When I was in I told myself, 'OK, I'm ready to be a mommy now that I'm stable and have a good job.'"


"I am fairly certain I had un-diagnosed postpartum anxiety. For the first six months of my daughter's life I was terrified of being alone with her. My husband had taken paternity leave, while I had maternity leave, and when I went back to work she went to daycare. When she turned 6-months-old we took her on a business trip for my husband, and it was just me and her all day long while he worked. I did it. I needed that to feel like I could do it. That was my turning point."


"I'm still not sure I know, but I remember when my son was a few days old, and wasn't latching. I was crying, and he was crying, so I pumped and let my husband give him a bottle. It's still one of my favorite memories, and I felt such relief. I knew we'd get through it together. "


"I knew when I landed back in the hospital a few days after giving birth with a 104 temperature and a uterine infection. I had great support the first few days after I got home, but then was having the hardest time attending to mom tasks. I kept thinking, 'Maybe I can't do this mom thing.' Then, I spiked a temperature and was sick, which meant the illness was the problem and not me."


"I think it was the first time I reflexively caught another human's vomit in my hands."


"I have flickers of it, especially lately. My 4-year-old is super challenging for me, but my 8-year-old is just so thoughtful, empathetic, and kind. It makes me think I'm doing something right."


"I wouldn't say it was exactly, 'I can handle this,' but when my daughter was 4-days-old she ended up back in a hospital with dehydration (my wife's milk hadn't come in). My wife was knocked out because she was four days postpartum, and was sleeping on one of those hospital chairs. My daughter was hooked up to an IV for six hours and couldn't sleep. We were in a kind of medical closet in the ER and the curtain didn't reach the bottom of the door, so there was a lot of light. I just remember holding her and swaying and shhhhhhhing the night away and thinking, as the non-gestational mom, 'Right. Well. I definitely feel like a parent right now.'"


"It wasn't one moment, so much as a large collection of them. It was being in internet groups, and seeing others have the same issues, ask the same 'stupid' questions, and not always do the expected thing. If I wasn't surrounded online by other moms, I would probably think I was literally the worst. Now, I'm just one of many."


"The first (and pretty much only) time I got both my 2-year-old and my newborn to take a nap at the same time, and long enough for me to take a nap, too. Two whole hours of sleep. At that point I felt freaking invincible. Since then, it's gone to hell, but I know if I try hard enough I'll be able to do it again."


"When my ex moved out I took our daughter on a day trip. We walked in the house, and his crew had left her favorite farm set in a pile in front of our fireplace. There were piles of dirt and dust everywhere. When [my daughter] saw her toys she started crying and saying, 'Oh no.' I just walked over and said, 'let's fix it.' So we did. The next morning, I woke up early so that the floors were clean by the time she woke. I moved furniture around to fill the gaps. I started to make pancakes, but realized he had taken the spatula, so I made waffles, instead. It was this moment I realized that I was not only a good mom, I was a good single mom."


"Well, I knew wouldn't die when my child slept through the night for the first time, but seriously, I knew I could make it when I got a routine going after the birth of my second child, and I saw how much more relaxed I was as a parent, and, subsequently, how much my kids picked up on that. With every kid, I just focused on creating a structure that worked for us all. My next big step forward was when I realized that what works for me wasn't best for everyone, so I should just lay off and focus on my own."


"I'm a single mom of two. It tested my everything, but I'm more confident for it. I'm also better with my time. A 12-hour-day without help once felt like years, and now it's five plus days at a time, and it's OK.

I don't know how to handle it, but after five plus years I've figured out a blend of mom and self. It is far from perfect, but I exist again, and I think that's why I'm better able to handle it."


"I'm on kid number five. I'll let you know if that moment ever happens. I will say the closest I have felt to that moment is when I got told my kids were kind and well-behaved in public, when I wasn't there — something stuck at least."


"Last year, we had some issues with a teacher, who screamed and cussed at a 6th grade class because they didn't complete a study guide, to the point that it caused kids to cry.

My spectrum kiddo, who wasn't one of the kids, with incomplete work, came home to tell me about it because he did not think it was OK to speak to kids like that. An 11-year-old child, with Autism, was aware enough to notice others' emotions and tell an adult.

After speaking to administration in the district, I followed up with my daughter to tell her she, too, could always come to me. Somehow it circled around to bullying and peer-to-peer issues. She told me she and her friends stick up for the kids who get picked on and that it hurts her feelings when people are mean.

Those couple of days in a row allowed me to see that after a decade as a parent, I truly have done something right. I finally know now that I've got this sh*t."


"The first pediatrician's appointment felt great. I made the choice to formula-feed because I hadn't produced any milk. The nurses and doctors in the hospital made me feel awful. The pediatrician saw her, and she hadn't lost any weight. She was healthy and strong and happy. When he asked about feeding, he could see my hesitation about telling him about formula. For some reason, hearing my kid's doctor say she would be perfectly healthy on formula helped me realize that I can make the right decisions for my kid."


"This may seem crazy, but I knew it all along. I took a long, long time to decide I wanted to be pregnant, and to be a parent of a baby, of a toddler, preschooler, a teenager, etc. I wanted the entire package, and I knew no matter what, I have this. I didn't get pregnant until I was 32, and my kiddo is an only child. I think that helped. Not that my life turned out like I thought, and not that I'm doing this parenting thing perfectly, but I still own it."


"When I got through infant starvation, followed by 10-weeks of blood curdling colic crying, I thought, 'Bring it on.' I've been humbled 17,000 times since then but it's still the bar I use to compare all of my parenting hardships."

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