Many of us have seen the witty film, “Bad Moms.” While I do embody many of the characters within that film, when I first became a mother, I truly was a bad mom. Not, naughty like the movie demonstrates, but bad, like I had no idea what in the hell I was doing to keep MY NEWBORN alive.
That kind of bad mom.
On our first night alone with our son, I made my own mother stay the night with my husband and me. You know, to help us make sure our newborn was still breathing. At one point, our son began to cry incessantly. I swaddled him. My husband rocked him. We blared white noise. We tried the swing. I changed his diaper. We moved him to the bassinet. Nothing worked. Finally, I woke my mother in the guest bedroom.
“He won’t stop crying, Mom.”
“Angela, he’s still hungry. Feed the kid,”
my mom said ever so calmly.
See? I really was a bad mom.
With never being around a single infant before, my husband and I drove through our first months of parenthood with no GPS, no passenger next to us—nothing to help guide us. And boy did my cluelessness get to me. Everywhere I went and even inside the comfort of my own home, I felt inadequate, judged, and ashamed.
I failed at BREASTFEEDING and the guilt of that pushed my baby clues close to a full-blown postpartum depression. I remember sitting on our couch, still in my yellow robe, with my aching boobs, just crying. Why am I so bad at this, I wondered? Motherhood was supposed to be a natural, life-changing experience. It was supposed to give me a radiant glow and I was supposed to love every minute of it.
I always pictured myself as a great mom.
Before having a baby, I pictured my free-spirited nature gliding through the meadows with my baby at my breast. I’d nurse whenever he wanted and it would be easy.
I would never put my baby ON A SCHEDULE because I was way too cool for that shit. Our infant would not interrupt our life, either. We would still go on vacations and out to dinner on a whim.
So, when motherhood turned out to be the exact opposite of all that harmony, and most importantly, I realized that I didn’t want to be that kind of mother, I became too damn hard on myself. And because society places so much pressure on mothers, I felt like I was the only one suffering—the only one in the world who could have been THIS bad at it.
Then, I learned to trust my instincts (and that I wasn’t really a bad mom)
Somehow, I woke up. I listened to my mother and my BEST FRIEND when they told me to stop breastfeeding. They told me to follow my motherly instincts—that intuition is something we all have. I believe that now.
I let my milk dry up and started owning motherhood. I did what I felt was right when it came to parenting choices. No, it was nothing like I had pictured, but it did become beautiful to me—finally. I fed my baby formula, I put him on a sleep and eating schedule, but no, I didn’t enjoy every minute of it.
Yet, I realized that, that’s okay. That’s normal.
Motherhood isn’t going to be perfect.
From conception to the birth of your first child, nothing will go as planned. It will be nothing as you pictured. And that’s okay.
My son not only made me a mother, but he made me a much more confident woman. He taught me to listen to my own instincts and to listen to myself. To trust myself.
So, even if you feel like you’re a bad mom in the beginning. Don’t worry, we all are—it’s just that not everyone admits that. Go ahead and embrace all of the imperfections that come with it and parent your child how you want to. Maybe, just maybe, your newborn will teach you a thing or two, just like mine taught me.