I’m a first time mom. I’d been around many babies, toddlers and kids before Bella, but not as a mother. Rather as a know-it-all, ohmygosh what are you doing, I would never feed my kid that, very judgmental un-mom.
But when Bella arrived, and even before, I went into panic mode. Everything had to be perfect – from her nursery color coordination, to the type of birth I was going to have. I bought and washed piles of clothing, I subscribed to every magazine about parenting and pregnancy possible, I checked out 3 or 4 books a week from the library, and Baby Bargains was my Bible. I even carried it in my purse. :/
Looking back, I admit, I was insane.
Looking back. As in, now that we’re past it, I see how I could have done it different.
See, I’m allowed to be insane. This is my first kid, and for me, it’s a test drive I don’t want to screw up. I worry about things that most 2nd and 3rd time moms roll their eyes at. I vacuum the carpet before I put her down on it. I hold my hand on the bottom of the coffee table so she doesn’t bonk when she lifts herself up. I sanitize her high chair. I make my own baby food. I cloth diaper. I have special drawers for each of her things. I hang her hats on hooks in her room.
I do things that make some people giggle and say, “You just wait. By the time the second one rolls around, you’ll be over that.”
Yeah, probably. I mean, vacuuming and sanitizing like a mad woman. Maybe not the other stuff.
At that point, I’ll probably also muffle a laugh when I hear a first time mom sobbing about cutting her baby’s fingernails and how she can’t do it because they are so tiny and bendable.
But right now? I still remember that feeling of terrified. Of fumbling through each day/week/month in hopes that I’m doing it right, that my mistake doesn’t end up in a huge mess. That feeling of complete overwhelmingness as I realize I am responsible for raising a human being. That my actions affect her. That I really don’t know what I’m doing.
No one ever jumps in a car for the first time and speeds down the road at 60mph feeling completely confident in knowing exactly how that car works. It’s the same with a new mom. Things take time, learning, mistakes, and lots of advice. I’ll be a little more at ease the second time around. I’ll know that my baby doesn’t care if –
– the room she sleeps in was decorated by a professional
– the bedding is from Pottery Barn or WalMart
– the chunks of mango are small enough to pass through a strainer as I still anxiously hover over her
– her pajamas stay on all day
– she doesn’t match
– her high chair is sanitized once a week.
But for now – I care. It’s just me, stumbling through motherhood and figuring out our path as mother and daughter together.
I try to remind myself of this as I overhear a mom of a newborn say, “I’m afraid her socks will cut off her circulation since her feet are so small and fragile.” It’s ok – she’s allowed to be a mess too.