I vividly remember my husband and I anxiously fastening our son into his car seat just three days after I had given birth to him. He was SO tiny, and the seat and straps seemed to shrink him even more. I had nannied countless times in my past, I knew how to take care of babies. I had read all the parenting sites and blogs, went to a lamaze class… and I STILL felt totally unprepared for this. A part of me honestly could not believe these nurses and doctors were about to let me walk out of the hospital with this tiny baby. I felt like I needed more schooling, more guidance… SOMETHING.
Because no matter how much experience I had taking care of other people’s kids the facts were:
- I had never taken care of a newborn.
2. This was MY kid… and somehow that changed everything.
I went home, and like many western women do (at least in the USA) I assumed it was up to me, and me alone, to get the job done of taking care of this infant. My husband helped, of course, but he had to return to work one short week after getting home. So there I was, a new mother, and frankly totally over my head and stubborn as all get out, trying to blindly feel my way through crying, blow-outs and sleep deprivation. Many (and I mean MANY) people offered to help and I am embarrassed to admit that I turned down their offers almost every time. A few people managed to elbow their way in to at least bring me food or see the baby. My mother (who is thankfully more stubborn than I am) managed to force me to nap on more than one occasion. I am now so greatful to her and everyone else who wanted to help, but at the time, for some stupid reason, I thought this was my journey to figure out alone. I thought motherhood was this deeply, singular thing.
Well I was 100% wrong.
The expression “it takes a village” exists for a reason, mommas, and it needs to be your new mantra. The idea that we are not meant to parent alone, but rather as a group of nurturing adults, is not a new concept. You’ve probably read it somewhere else before and yet, mother after mother goes home after having their baby with this idea that they have to take it all on themselves, or else they have somehow failed.
Now that I have a second baby, I am amazed at how much easier mom duties come to me. Bathing, changing, sleeping, eating… most things seem to be like an old hat… been there, done that. So why are we so stubborn to think we need to figure out our way through the first time alone? There are so many people out there that have done this many times before.
I know, and remember, the feeling. I was all “but this is MY baby. This is our moment. We want this time, just us.” I thought I was the only one to be this stubborn, but I keep hearing stories of other moms making similar mistakes. A friend of my mom’s had twins. My mom, who’s kids were growing up and starting to leave for college, offered to be there when they arrived and help out. Her friend declined, saying she wanted this to be a special time for just her, her husband and the babies. It took less than 24 hours for her to call my mom up asking “how soon can you be here?” It’s a funny story, but a good message, we all want that “special alone time”, it sure sounds nice… but the truth is it’s just a crazy notion!
Not only do new moms need the backup but here is the other thing, the people who want to help, who’s kids are grown, they WANT TO HELP YOU! They miss that baby smell, they miss the feeding and the rocking.They have so much knowledge and real, good advice. If they offer you this advice, even if you didn’t ask for it, take it, and at the very least store it for later. So much of parenting (first time or otherwise) is trial and error. What works for one baby might not work for another. What you read in that parenting blog might work great, or it might be bologna. Keep in mind these people who offer to help (your mother, father, your mother-in-law, friends, aunts, neighbors) they just want to make things easier for you, and trust me, you need the help! You might know all the things, but who couldn’t use a nap?
So listen, I know, I know you are Supermom. Really you are. But even SuperMAN needs help once in a while… so moms… let them help, ok!?