That first baby throws you for a loop, man. It is abrupt and hard. H-A-R-D. At least it was for me. I went to bed one night with no thought of childbirth in my head, and then at 5am my water broke. I spent one evening wandering the aisles of IKEA shopping for baby furniture, and the next evening in the NICU holding my premature daughter. Looking back, it’s like I blinked and my life changed forever.
In the early days and weeks of parenting I feared that life as I knew it was over. In some ways it was, in fact. I am not the same person today that I was on that February afternoon in 2005 when I gave birth for the first time. It’s not all bad, though, far from it. I am a little tougher, a little more focused, and I can function on far less sleep than I used to. I view the world differently, because my stake in it is greater thanks to my children.
Back then, in the bleary-eyed early morning hours as I sat nursing my daughter yet again, I worried a lot. I didn’t know if, or when, things would get better. I didn’t know if following my instincts was right or wrong. I feared the rest of my life would be that semi-existence in which I could barely make myself a peanut butter sandwich to wolf down for lunch or grab a shower. On those nights what I most needed to hear was it will be OK.
Then – a slightly stunned new family
Luckily I met other moms, more experienced moms who told me just that. They promised me that it would get better and things would get easier. They assured me that I could trust my instincts. They said it will be OK. I clung to their words for dear life. It had to be OK. It had to be.
Those moms were right. Everything was OK in the end. Or OK enough that I decided to do it all again and have another child, anyway. The second time around I had some more perspective, and it made things easier. I knew that the early days would be rough but they would not last forever. Things would get better. It would be OK.
Now – we are OK
These days I am the ‘experienced’ mom at playground. I have a 5-year-old and a 21-month-old and we’ve all survived this far. I am able to have a daily shower and keep everyone fed. It is not always easy, but it is OK.
I see new moms with the fear in their bleary eyes. The fear that they will never be the same again, never get a full night’s sleep, never pee with both hands. I know that fear. I do not tell them, “Enjoy it, it goes so quickly!” even though I believe that. I remember the bad times too much to be trite. But I do say, “It won’t be like this forever. It will get easier. You can trust yourself and your baby. It will be OK.” Sometimes I hear them exhale with relief.
Those mamas who gave me words to cling to when I couldn’t see straight did not do it for themselves. They did it because they knew that fear I was living with. They genuinely wanted to help me. It seems only fair to pay the kindness forward. It seems only fair to pass along the words of wisdom that saw me through. It will be OK. You can trust yourself and your baby. Things will get better. I hope that one day the mamas that clung to my words will pay them forward, too.
- Woman Seeking Inspiration â€” Seeking Mother’s struggles and joys to find her own path in motherhood have inspired others â€” to her surprise! (@seekingmother )
- Paving the Way â€” Jessica at This is Worthwhile makes a conscious effort every day to be a role model. (@tisworthwhile )
- No Rules Without Reason â€” The Recovering Procrastinator wants to inspire her husband to discipline their children gently. (@jenwestpfahl)
- Creating a Culture of Positive Parenting Role Models â€” Michelle at The Parent Vortex shows parents at the playground how to do a front wrap cross carry and tells nurses about her successful home births, as a way of modeling natural parenting in public. (@TheParentVortex)
- Making A Difference for Mamas â€” Shana at Tales of Minor Interest took an embarrassing pumping incident at work and turned it into an opportunity for all the employees who breastfeed.
- Inspiring Snowflakes â€” Joni Rae at Tales of Kitchen Witch Momma is a role model for the most important people: her children. (@kitchenwitch)
- A SAHD’s View on Parenting Role Models â€” Chris at Stay At Home Dad in Lansing doesn’t have many role models as a SAHD â€” but hopes to be one to his daughter.
- Am I a Role Model? A Review â€” Deb at Science@home brings attachment parenting out of the baby age and shows how it applies (with science fun!) to parenting through all of childhood. (@ScienceMum)
- Say Something Good â€” Arwyn at Raising My Boychick reminds women that it is within our right to be proud of ourselves without apology. (@RaisingBoychick)
- Try, Try Again â€” Thomasin at Propson Palingenesis wants to inspire like the Little Engine that Could.
- I’m a Parenting Inspiration, Who Knew? â€” Sarah at OneStarryNight has received several beautiful comments about just what an inspiration she has been, if not in real life then definitely online. (@starrymom)
- That Little Thing â€” NavelgazingBajan at Navelgazing demonstrates the ripple effect, one status update at a time. (@BlkWmnDoBF)
- How Has Your Day Been? â€” mrs green @ littlegreenblog inspired her friend to be an active listener for her children. (@myzerowaste)
- No, Thank You! â€” If you are reading Maman A Droit’s post, you’ve probably inspired her. (@MamanADroit)
- My Top 3 Natural Parenting Principles â€” Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now describes how her family’s natural and Montessori principles inspired others. (@DebChitwood)
- My Hope for a Better Life â€” Mandy at Living Peacefully With Children hopes her choices inspire her children toward a better life.
- Natural Parenting Felt Natural â€” Sheryl at Little Snowflakes didn’t plan on natural parenting â€” but her son led her there. (@sheryljesin)
- Rest. Is it even possible? â€” Janet at where birth and feminism intersect has found that even role models need rest â€” and that there are ways to fit it into everyday parenting life. (@feministbirther)
- May Carnival of Natural Parenting: Role model â€” Lauren at Hobo Mama was the fortunate recipient of a seed of inspiration, and has been privileged to plant some of those seeds herself, though she didn’t know it at the time. (@Hobo_Mama)
- crunchspiration â€” the grumbles at grumbles and grunts wants to inspire others to parent from their heart. (@thegrumbles)
- No Extra Inspiration Required â€” Zoey at Good Goog doesn’t think she inspires anyone and wasn’t inspired by anyone in return â€” except by her daughter. (@goodgoogs)
- Upstream Parenting â€” Luschka at Diary of a First Child blogs for that one mother in one hundred who will find her words helpful. (@diaryfirstchild)
- Parenting Advice for the Girl from Outer Space â€” If Mommy Soup at Cream of Mommy Soup could give one piece of inspirational advice to new parents, it would be to parent with kindness. (@MommySoup)
- Natural Parenting Carnival â€” Role Model â€” Sarah at Consider Eden feels the pressure at trying â€” and failing â€” to live up to her role models. (@ConsiderEden)
- May Carnival of Natural Parenting: Role Model â€” Dionna at Code Name: Mama encourages natural parenting mamas to take joy in the fact that they are touching lives and making a difference to children every day. (@CodeNameMama)
- Inspiration Goes Both Ways â€” Melodie at Breastfeeding Moms Unite! is flustered that people consider her a breastfeeding role model â€” but the lovely comments she’s received prove it’s so. (@bfmom)
- My Seven â€” Danielle at born.in.japan has identified seven role models in her life who brought her to natural parenting. Who are your seven? (@borninjp)
- A Quiet Example â€” Alison at BluebirdMama was one of the first parents in her group of friends â€” and has come to see almost all those friends follow in her natural birthing footsteps, whether intentionally or not.
- Gentle Discipline Warrior â€” Paige at Baby Dust Diaries has inspired a gentle discipline movement â€” join her! (@babydust)
- Change The World… One Parent At A Time â€” Mamapoekie is more comfortable inspiring parents online than she is in real life. (@mamapoekie)
- Inspirational Parenting â€” pchanner at A Mom’s Fresh Start has intentionally tried to be a role model but was unprepared for how soon someone would take notice. (@pchanner)
- My Inspiration â€” Erin at A Beatnik’s Beat on Life has written thank-you letters to everyone who’s inspired her to become the lactivist and natural parenting advocate she is today. (@babybeatnik)