July 19, 2022
In the last few weeks of my pregnancy, my therapist asked me if there was a time in my life where I felt like I had failed big and miserably. My honest answer, no. Had I made mistakes? Of course! Did things not go according to plan? All the time. But I saw those short comings not as failures but as lessons, paths leading me closer towards my destiny.
Then I became a mom.
That first week of my daughter’s life, I experienced what all new mothers must go through – that blissful, emotional whirlwind that is bringing a new person into this world. Time somehow was standing still and yet whizzing by. But within those first few weeks I was convinced I had already failed my sweet newborn daughter.
With each passing day of her life, I was reminded of my failures again and again. Wasn’t producing enough milk right away? Failure. Couldn’t figure out why she was crying? Failure. Trips to the pediatrician’s office every two days because she wasn’t gaining weight? Failure. Failure. FAILURE!
I questioned myself hourly, usually while crying and asking my husband what was wrong with me? Motherhood is supposed to be the most natural thing in the world, right? Do I not have a nurturing bone in my body? All I ever wanted was to be a mother, how am I so horrible at this? Why does every decision I make feel like the wrong one?
Sure, part of it was the rush of hormones that come after having a baby (postpartum depression is the no joke!) But the moms I talked to about these feelings of failure shared they don’t just disappear. That failure and “mom guilt” are alive and well WAY past the newborn stage. As mothers, we want so badly to make life easier for our children. We would give them the world, even if that came at the expense of ourselves. If we see our children struggle even the tiniest bit, we think it’s because of us. We equate it to this simple fact: their struggle = bad mother.
But just like our sweet babies are learning how to exist in this world for the first time, we are also learning how to parent. We’re not going to know everything. There is no perfect mother, just like there is no perfect spouse, business owner, or even human. This whole journey of motherhood, of being alive in this world is a learning experience. It’s big and messy and full of ALL the emotions. That’s what it means to be alive.
Maybe you’re like me and have already felt like you’ve failed your children a million times over. I need you to hear me loud and clear…
You are NOT a failure.
You are EXACTLY what your babies need. You DO have everything you need to love them and provide for them. If you don’t know something, you’ll ask for help. You are learning and growing along the way, just like they are. It’s okay to feel all the feelings! I’m not saying there aren’t going to be times where you could have handle something differently. You will make mistakes, we all do, but you will become better for it. A mistake or not knowing something doesn’t mean you’ve failed!
Remember that even though motherhood is natural, doesn’t mean it’s easy.
Feeling like a failure doesn’t just disappear, but I try and remind myself that it’s human. Sophia and I will keep figuring it out together. She’ll figure out what it means to be alive in this world and my goal is to guide her along the way. With our relationship firmly routed in unconditional love, we will learn and grow and try our best.
And I know that’s what you will do too.