On 11/17 my son, Israel, turned 6 months old. I can’t believe I have survived thus far. Becoming a mother is, indeed, a life-changing experience. It’s more than having the life of a completely helpless human in your hands. The physical journey is not for the faint. The emotional process is taxing, to say the least.
Despite the, what seemed like, hundreds of “it’s such a beautiful thing” and “it’s all worth it” cliche statements I’ve encountered, there are a few things I wish the sisterhood of mothers had been a little more forthcoming about. To avoid becoming one of those “perfect world” motherhood salespeople, I’ve decided to share 6 things I’ve learned in these 6 months. Then maybe… just maybe, I can help make someone’s journey a little better.
DON’T COMPARE YOURSELF TO YOUR FANTASY IDEA OF A MOM
I truly believe that the worse thing I did, and the hardest thing I had to deal with, was trying to live up to this “perfect mother” who lives in my head. She could cook, clean, write, breastfeed, and handle anything baby related all by herself. Not because she had to, my “perfect mom” could because it came naturally to her. Wrong!
After almost the FULL 6 months, I finally discovered that I am not that perfect mother and woman, nor am I required to be. Even more, I am beyond lucky to have an immense amount of love and support. Yet somehow, I found a way, daily, to look past my blessings and focus on my perfect wife and mother shortcomings. But now, I know. I need not compare myself to someone who doesn’t even exist. The mother I am and am becoming is perfect for my family as long as I am giving my all. Everything is great!
I WILL NOT HAVE THAT BEYONCE SNAPBACK
Listen (I can laugh now… haha!) I would have loved to be mid-drift ready in less than 6 months postpartum like Bey. I’m not even considering 3 days like Teyana Taylor or 13 like Angela Simmons. I truly beat myself up about my weight and stretch marks. I found myself angry because of all the plans I had made mentally to be back in shape quickly. Well, truth be told, I wasn’t on Bey’s level before the baby soooooo….. *insert hysterical laugh here*. So again, being unrealistic was depressing. But, I believe I’ve finally come to terms with the fact that I’m just going to be bigger than I was until I can get myself acclimated to my new pace of life (which is like Super Mario with a star).
BABIES REALLY DO ONLY NEED 3 THINGS
(1)Food, (2) clean bodies, and (3) to be loved on and kept from harm. (Was that 4?) As a new mother, I believe having your child cry can be the definition of what a mother feels failure sounds like. Because certainly, if baby is crying, I’ve done something wrong, right? … Wrong! That’s just what babies do. They cry. It’s all they know to do to communicate. So if they have been fed and are clean, simply give them all the love your body can spare. Let your frustrations and confusions pour out in the form of kisses and playing. I think it helps both mommy and baby. (Disclaimer: Now, of course, there are other circumstances where there could be something wrong. You should absolutely pay attention to baby to be sure there isn’t a pattern or particular thing that triggers it. This point is concerning a blanket and everyday thought.)
BREASTFEEDING IS NOT FOR THE WEAK
Let me be honest upfront. I almost gave up DAY ONE at home from the hospital. But, The Most-High sent an angel by the name of Karen Johnson with a double electric pump. Truly, if it had not been for that pump, my son would’ve been on formula completely and immediately. Breastfeeding has meant (for me) extra sleepless nights and restless days. It’s meant not eating sometimes because I only had time to pump or eat and I chose to pump. It’s meant sore nipples and leaking breasts. But it’s also meant close time with my son, security knowing he is getting the nutrition he needs, and being the comfort he has wanted when he is feeling bad. But breastfeeding is more than the physical feat. It’s 95% mental. At an already emotional time, it can be so difficult to overcome your own body begging to go to sleep and eat.
So, if you’re considering breastfeeding or are like me and breastfeeding now, strengthen your mind and your body will follow. (At least try… and if it doesn’t work out for you, please know that you are still a beautiful and amazing woman who is the ONLY ONE who can give baby the love and care he needs from his one and only mommy!)
LET THEM HELP YOU
This one won’t be long. I mean what I say. When they reach for the baby, offer to cook or clean, or just watch the baby sleep while you sleep (because you know you can’t sleep while the baby sleeps afraid he is going to… I don’t know… breathe too much haha), LET THEM! Trust me, the help fades away. So, get what you can while you can. Now, “they” means the very few people you have deemed fit to handle your newborn in his first days and weeks. They love you. They love the baby. LET THEM HELP YOU.
POSTPARTUM DEPRESSION IS REAL
This will be the most transparent thing I’ve posted to date. PPD is more common than the world would have you believe. Before I had my son, I can’t say I ever saw a Facebook post, tweet, or blog about it. Maybe I was blind to it because I wasn’t a mother (more than likely the case). But, I refuse to be like the majority of the world. I will write the truth so that a mother who is someone uncontrollably sad will know that she isn’t the only one.
I’ve cried at the smallest things. I’ve beat myself up about not being a better mother. I’ve confused THE HELL out of my husband (so grateful he understood I wasn’t myself). I’ve refused to take medication. I’ve broken down while working. I’ve been there. It’s real. It’s not just another word. It is an illness. There is help. Ask your doctor for help. If you don’t like medication, pray, Pray, PRAY! Meditate. Focus on centering yourself in a positive and uplifting place. If you don’t pray, listen to your loved ones who say YOU ARE ENOUGH! If you don’t have those people, LISTEN TO ME. YOU ARE ENOUGH! THIS WORLD NEEDS YOU. Your child needs you at your best. Don’t quit. Keep living Everything will be ok. It’s temporary. One day at a time. One hour at a time. One minute at a time if you have to. Just keep living. You won’t regret it.
I hope I help someone along this journey.
Now… GO BE GREAT!