WHAT EVERY NEW MAMA NEEDS TO KNOW
BY KELLY BARRIBALL
Hey there new mama, in case you didn’t already know it, you’re doing a great job and you are enough.
I’m sure you could all relate when I say the journey into motherhood is an interesting and exhilarating time. Your emotions are at an all time high – you’re ecstatic, motivated, elated, exhausted, sensitive, deliriously in love, deeply in love, fiercely in love, sometimes confused, sometimes sad, sometimes frazzled but one thing I didn’t expect to feel was judged.
It really has surprised me how many other women try to bring you down under the guise that they’re ‘helping’. I’m positive that they don’t do it deliberately, but it seems if you’re a mother, you’re an expert. News flash sisters, you’re an expert on your journey, not mine.
Friends, family and even strangers will all give you advice, their opinion and a horror story or two - just for good measure. All I can suggest, and what works for me, is to smile, politely nod and take it on the chin. You really do know what’s best for you and your family and you are enough.
Every mama (and papa) has their own journey. Their own choices. Their own plan. And that’s what makes parenthood so special. If you choose to breastfeed or choose not to - you are enough. If you choose to co-sleep or you choose to put your baby in another room - you are enough. If you choose to read every parenting book under the sun or you choose to trust your gut – you are enough and you are doing a great job.
Of course, calling on the sisterhood has its place. I am personally lucky enough to have had a bevy of friends have babies around the same time as me. We are constantly messaging one another and asking about milestones, what’s ‘normal’ and sometimes, just looking for a little reassurance. We’re all lifelong friends, we like the same things, we share the same interests, we love one another and yet we’re all parenting our kids in our own unique way. And that’s ok.
Social media for new mamas is also a great place to connect. It’s an easy way to share in one another’s joy and to offer support when you’re feeling out of your depth. However, it’s also a pretty negative and ‘judgey’ place too. It’s easy to state your opinion from behind a keyboard and far too easy not to think about how that might affect someone else. Instead of telling another mama what you do and why that’s the best way, try telling them they’re doing a great job.
Society, the media and especially social media seem to have a fixation on what’s right or wrong and more specifically, what a ‘real mum’ is or should be doing. Newsflash, if you carried and delivered a baby, whether via caesarean or vaginal; drugs or natural; assisted or without intervention – you’re a ‘real mum’.
If you bounced back to your pre-pregnancy weight within days, you’re a real mum and you are enough. If you’re still struggling with the weight two years on, you’re a real mum and you are enough. If you manage to shower every day and put on a coat of mascara, you are enough. If you stay in your PJs all day, you’re also enough. If you use the cry it out technique or you choose to rock your baby to sleep, you’re a real mum and you are enough.
We don’t have to agree with one another, but seriously, lets cut the shit and start celebrating one another. Lets start supporting one another. Lets start empowering one another. Imagine if we all did things the very same way, the world would be a pretty boring place. Instead of telling people why their choices are wrong, tell them they are enough.
Hey mama, in case you missed the memo. You are more than enough and you are doing a great job.
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