It seems like there are A LOT of myths about early mothering going around out there. The diaper commercials, Pinterest, and stories we hear from previous generations give us the following messages:
-pregnancy is the most blissful time of your life and you will love every minute of it.
-you will fall in love with your baby immediately after giving birth.
-breastfeeding is easy and it comes naturally; you can figure it out all on your own.
-motherhood is about self-sacrifice and your personal needs no longer matter. If you do take time for yourself, then you are selfish.
-you should be able to raise a baby all by yourself.
-if you had a traumatic labor and delivery, all that matters is your baby is healthy.
And there are more. So, so, so much SHAME comes with the title of new mom in this culture. Shame that we are incompetent and don’t know how to do mothering if the skill set doesn’t come naturally. Shame if we don’t 100% love mothering and all that we have given up of our old identity. Shame if we have mixed feelings about our baby because our old childhood wounds are coming to the surface. Naturally, we look to peers and family and Facebook for examples of how to mother and what we are left with is feeling even more inadequate after we get done comparing ourselves to others who have just reinforced the myths.
The truth is early mothering is hard; it is like being in the trenches in a war zone. I would argue that it is the most challenging chapter of your entire life. You are tired, hormonal, and no longer able to get basic needs met like taking showers regularly and timely bathroom breaks. Your body is no longer your own and most likely you are facing some major body shame due to post pregnancy changes. And your relationships have changed. You don’t feel like having sex and you don’t have time for friendships. Furthermore, your old friends who don’t have children can’t really relate to the vortex you have just entered and your friendships change. And motherhood is lonely, and isolating.
It’s time to be honest about mothering. The more candid we can be with our friends and family, the more we give permission to others to do the same. It doesn’t discount our love for our babies at all; instead, it is liberating and cathartic to admit that this is the hardest job you will ever love. And the truth is it gets waaaaaay better after the first year :).