I remember when I was the perfect mom, you know, before I had kids. It is so easy to say what kind of mom you will be before you have kids, but the truth is you have no idea and, honestly, it really hurts our experience as mothers when we have unrealistic expectations. Having unrealistic expectations brews resentment, disappointment, and self hate, while we could just live in the truth of motherhood, the dirty, difficult, but absolutely beautiful in it’s own right, motherhood. I wrote this to share my experience as well as hopefully prepare future mamas for the reality that is motherhood so they don’t experience the unfortunate shift in reality a lot of us go through.
I think the most important point that we often do not consider before becoming mothers is that we cannot control who are child is. You can do everything “perfect”, but each child has their own personality, tendencies, ways of doing things, and own struggles. We forget that babies and toddlers are just little humans with their own personalities and ways of seeing the world. Regardless of what you do and how you parent, you may have a very “difficult” baby or you may have a very “easy” go with the flow baby. This is their personality (or temperament) and we don’t really have a say in it.
Along with their own different personalities comes different ways of dealing with things. While it helps to be knowledgeable about child development and behavior management, some kids are going to have tantrums. Some children have sensory processing disorders and get overwhelmed. Most toddlers will develop separation anxiety and stranger anxiety and, to a certain extent, this is completely normal. You can’t parent to prevent this. You can however parent to be supportive and consistent, but that’s another conversation.
The other thing is the expectation that we will be super moms before we ever even become a parent. This false ideal of being a super mom creates terrible disappointment and mom burnout. Parenting is EXHAUSTING. It is the most mentally exhausting thing I have ever done (and I taught a room full of toddler for five years. Parenting is different. It is constant). There really is no break, even if someone gives you a break, you think of your child pretty much constantly. Becoming a mom changes everything. Do not expect to be the same productive person who does it all when you become a parent. Actually, don’t expect to be the same person at all. Your child will be your biggest teacher in life and you absolutely will change and that is okay, embrace it. While you eventually will get into your own groove as a parent, there is a huge adjustment. I thought I was going to be able to build my business, keep the house spotless, take care of my young crazy dogs, maintain a thriving marriage and be an amazing, ever-present mama. Oh boy, was I wrong. It took me about eighteen months to really settle into myself as a mother and figure out the balance of being myself and a mother as well as a part of society and that is also okay. We don’t have to figure anything out right away and I just wish someone would have told me that.
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