I’m allowed to be a mess, thanks.

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.


Comments

  1. Last time I checked, you were ALLOWED to mother in any way you see fit (within reason), whether it’s your first kid or your fifth! :) I am like you on many things, and I have my own personal hangups, like right now I am fighting everyone who wants to feed him random unapproved things like desserts or pieces of fruit that are OBVIOUSLY too big, etc.

    • I had someone give Bella a plastic bag to play with the other day. I felt odd saying, “I don’t mean to be that crazy mom, but we’d prefer she not nom on bags…”

  2. Heidi K. says:

    I have good friends who try to undersand the PPD/Anxiety, but even the best ones still give me the “wait until the next one comes along….” comments now and then. Being a first-time mom is terrifying. Add the PPD and forget about it! Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Knowing that others thought (and feared and obsessed) like I did…you have given me a great peace in my heart this morning. Thank you.

    • ((HUGS)) It is hard. I mean, really worth it, but scary and unnerving. Add PPD to the mix and you’ve got a whole other set of issues going on.
      We’re all obsessed – they’re our kids. :) I don’t think it gets any easier as they get older either.

  3. I wonder from this post if I’m just not a typical first time mom. I hate cleaning and vacuuming should be done way more often. I’m often picking dog hair off my scooting child. Oh and you just reminded me that I probably should sanitize the high chair. But yeah, I’ve had my things I obsess over. I mean you should totally see my post today about anxiety. We all have our things being new moms…we all have out idiosyncrasies. The matching one is a biggie for me. And I’m sure I have others…it’s just too early for my brain to think of them.

  4. I am going to be a first time mom, and im feeling soooo insecure! I’ve been around other kids, etc,but im so scared i will do something wrong!!!!!

    • I understand. Which is why I carried around Baby Bargains with me. I didn’t even trust my own choices in BEDDING. Seriously – crib bedding took me a month to pick out. :/

      And now? I’m like, she would have been happy with a sheet and pacifier. lol

      If you ever need to talk, vent, whatever – I’m here. I’m also heading over to your site to check it out.

    • Heidi K. says:

      Stephanie– We are all there with you. My son had a lamp fall on him when he was about 6-7 months old. He cried for about 2 minutes and then went on with his playing. I cried for about 20 minutes and felt guilty for days. I posted on my FB page about it. It started a weird little “contest” among my friends. They kept posting their “worst” mother moments– each on claiming that she had one the “worst mother of the year” award– which I thought I had for the lamp. They made me laugh and feel so much better. We ALL make mistakes. Babies are tough & resiliant. So are toddlers, children, teens…. Try (and, I def know how hard it is!) to be kind to yourself. Also, ask your friends with kids to tell you about some of their goofs. They might just make you feel better knowing that their kids turned out just fine! :)

  5. Amen sista! When we were first thinking about having a baby, the H was worried about bringing her home to an apartment. I said it doesn’t matter! She won’t know and at the end of the day where she lives is not important (as long as it’s safe).

    They don’t know from Walmart or Dillards and they just need love. Everything else is just gravy.

    You’re doing an amazing job.

  6. If doing all those things mentioned above classifies you as a mess…then call me Aisle 3 (cause there is a mess…get it…that was supposed to be a joke). Oh, and by the way, I sanitize the babes chair every night and I still lay a blanket down for him to play on. I’m the definition of mess.

    • At first I was like, “Wait, Aisle 3?” Then I got it.

      We can be messes together. And with our next babies, we can write blogs about how much we know and that we can’t *believe* our friends still mash up their kids food. :)

  7. Hey, I have 2 kids that are 18 months apart, and I STILL sanitize the high chair and vacuum every day. It takes me 45 minutes to fold all of their clothes, just-right, and everything has a special place in their drawers and closets. These are the things that I will continue to obsess about, no matter how many children I have, and I don’t make any apologies for it when people make fun of me for being such a neat freak. I dare anyone to take a microbiology class and NOT care about every little germ in their life :) Sometimes it doesn’t matter how many kids you have…there are things that you won’t give up just because you have more.

  8. Nikolai is my second child, but is my husband’s first. Early on we had the discussion that I was not to interfere with his “first time parent” experience. I had no problem allowing him to be grossed out by used baby stuff, have to have the most expensive stuff and the need for everything to be just so. Who am I to change that for him? For me the second kid was different, that may not be the case for every parent. For my husband, he already loves second hand stuff because it is cheap and isn’t freaked out anymore if Nik eats a piece of bread off the {otherwise clean} floor.
    I love this post. You should put it up on the bump, lol!

  9. Hope I didn’t offend you in anyway certainly wasn’t my heart. I have a feeling I did.

    • In no way did you. :) This was written about a week ago, just really bad timing to be published after yesterday – which actually I thought was funny because the bumper ended up being collapsable. But I love getting advice from you. I wrote this after overhearing a few new moms talking and giggling to myself – until I realized that was still me. lol.

  10. I used to go crazy over everything being just right and perfect. I still have my OCD moments with the baby, but I’m realizing, quickly, that I cannot keep the dog hair off my kids butt or hands as she crawls along the floor. I vacuum, sweep and steam mop every weekend night and a few times a week, and it doesn’t matter there is still fur. I sanitize and wipe down her high chair after every meal, all of her clothes are folded a certain way and put back in the place every time. I’ve just learned what’s important vs. what’s not. For my sanity I need things organized and clean….for my daughter’s sanity and experiences, I need her to crawl and explore without living in a bubble.

  11. You are allowed to be whatever kind of mom you are :) And you won’t necessarily change for the second. I am more relaxed about certain things (my poor boy’s room still isn’t really done and I don’t have a “starting solid” mapped out schedule) and just found other things to worry about (does my toddler know that the baby sleeps with us some, ok most, nights? do either of them feel ignored? is it ok that she just clocked him with her doll?)

  12. Hi Diana, I’m new to your blog but really enjoyed what I just read.
    I TOTALLY know where you are coming from. I’m also a first time mom. I too bought way too many clothes and part of the reason I did was because we live in a 1 bedroom apartment and I felt like I couldn’t fully “nest”. Insane but so what?
    They are our firsts.
    I once cut Lily’s little baby finger with clippers and I couldn’t stop crying about it. She was fine, didn’t cry but I was a mess!

    I’m going to “follow”.
    Also, we are doing our very first giveaway, would love it if you came to check it out.
    Claudia

    http://lilmuselily.com/2010/07/26/our-very-first-giveaway/

  13. how do you sanitize a high chair? I use anti bacterial wipes each night???

  14. you are doing just fine! with my first, i was pretty nervous about everything. with my second, well she was the worlds hardest baby so i can’t tell you for sure if it was more me or her but things didn’t start going well until she was 2. with my 3rd, this is old school. i’m still nervous about stuff but i am way more laid back with him than with any of them.

    the point is, be however you need to be because with each child you have you start to relax a little more and parenting a baby is actually really enjoyable!

  15. I totally LOVE this post for SOO many reasons! In many ways I am not the over anxious first time mom (and I hate even saying that phrase), I mean we eat something that has dropped, things are not always clean and perfect here, I just do not feel stressed very often with Bailey, etc. My issue is that I hate hearing the things that Mom’s of multiple children sometimes say…I mean, come on let us first time Mommies figure it out for ourselves!! I think life is a path and we all do things our own way, and who knows you may just be a cleaner by nature, thus when #2 rolls along, you will clean…maybe with less time :)! I have a couple people I know with 2 kids and they blame everything they do not do because they are far more busy than anyone else…and maybe they are but I think everyone is busy in their own way. Well I totally agree let everyone have their firsts, their breakdowns, their joy, and their frustrations and to us maybe it is not a big deal but to them it is, so let it be! Great Post Diana!

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