Dear new mom,
I was in your shoes less than two years ago. As you settle into new motherhood in all its glory, with its confusing influx of intense (and often conflicting) emotions, sleep deprivation, and self-doubt. . . as you begin to reconcile with your miraculous body that has now become an unfamiliar and sometimes hostile landscape. . . as you begin the deepest, most demanding, and most permanent relationship of your life with a virtual stranger. . . let this sink in and take root:
You are enough.
You are good enough. You are strong enough. You are wise enough. You are loving enough. You are beautiful enough. You are a mother, and you are enough.
The world will constantly try to tell you that it needs more from you. But everything that you need to be the best mother to your child is inside of you right now.
As mothers, we want to give our children everything, even at the expense of our own comfort, and sometimes our own sanity. We feel blessed to be entrusted with the care of a precious life, and we want to be worthy of that blessing. We proudly wear our heart outside our body, and face every day with an exuberant desire to lay down everything we have in service of the little person we brought into the world.
This is our beauty and our strength, but it’s also our weakness. In our quest to improve ourselves and equip ourselves with all the knowledge that can help us become our best, our armor becomes permeable and we become susceptible to messages that we are inadequate. But no matter what the daily details of your life may be, you are good. You are great. You are enough.
Remember these things when it’s 3 a.m. and you can’t get your baby to sleep and you feel helpless and alone. Remember them when you’re looking in the mirror a few weeks after giving birth and nothing looks familiar. Remember them when you’re facing your return to work and are consumed by guilt.
Even though your world revolves around your new baby, you still matter. When we’re pregnant, the world cares a lot about how we’re doing. Strangers take note of our “glow” and offer to feed us. By the end of our pregnancies, we have weekly doctor’s appointments, and all are attuned to our every pang and ache. But once we give birth, all the focus shifts to the baby in our arms. Only just this past month has the official stance changed to recognize that new moms need better care in the “fourth trimester” than a single visit six weeks after delivery. As new moms, our mental health matters. Our happiness matters. Having a support system matters. So whenever you can, take that moment for yourself. Let others step in and help you. Because while your baby is the center of your universe, you matter, too.
Recalibrating takes time. Becoming a mother marks a huge identity shift that doesn’t get enough attention. It’s ok to be confused about who you are after you become a mom. The entire experience is challenging and beautiful and disorienting and painful and earth-shattering all at once. Just because motherhood has existed since the beginning of humankind, doesn’t mean that it feels “normal” or comes naturally. You may look and feel different for a long time after giving birth. Or you may never go back to the way you used to be. Give yourself grace.
You are the world’s foremost expert on your baby and your life. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Seek help when you need it, but trust your instincts when it comes to your child. Only you can really know whether sleep training is appropriate for your family or whether nursing is for you. Or whether you need to take the night off to save your sanity. People will always try to help by offering advice, but don’t forget who is living this life day in and day out. And nobody cares more than you do. You know best.
Perfection is an illusion. Deep down, we just know that all the beautiful social media posts documenting other mothers’ “perfect” lives are not representative of day-to-day reality, and are edited, filtered, and captioned to be aspirational. Nobody is achieving perfection in motherhood, not even the so-called “perfect” mothers. We will all have good days and bad days. There are some days where we will feel great, and other days where our entire life seems like a mess. That’s just called being human.
And so, with that, I wish you well. Remember, mama, you are enough.