Dear First-Time Mom,


Dear First-Time Mom,

I’ve been thinking about you a lot lately. More often than you might expect considering I’m on my fourth round of this mommy thing.  Here I am with an infant again, and I’m still checking my Wonder Weeks app to remember if this current bout of sleep regression is normal or if he could be getting teeth with all of this drooling.

I look at you proudly post weekly pictures and nervously make decisions that feel so huge and permanent, and I remember those days when I brought my first baby home from the hospital… those joyful, terrifying, and exhausting days.

Boys reading bedtime storyBut occasionally my heart breaks for you.

I get a text or a Facebook message from a tired first time mom who is so afraid that she’s not getting it just right, and my heart hurts a little more because parenting in the current culture can be downright soul crushing.

We have failed our first time moms with Instagram-perfect posts. With bodies that are unnaturally toned for having just given birth. With babies who are unnaturally peaceful and well dressed. With homes that look like Joanna Gaines herself decorated them.

We have failed you with book after book after book telling you how to get your tiny baby to be on the perfect schedule, and when it doesn’t work (because hey, it doesn’t always work… in fact, it works zero percent of the time in my experience), we are quick to remind you that the problem is simply in your implementation. 

We have failed you with encyclopedias of information on everything you should be worried about so that now you can’t even enjoy one moment with this baby without considering the 10,000 ways (s)he’s in mortal peril. 

We have told you that there are conspiracies to be investigated during every well child visit to the doctor.  We have told you that every product on the market is likely to cause cancer.  We have told you that breast is best but we haven’t given you common sense advice on how to make it work for you and your baby.  We’ve criticized you over your car seat choices or baby food choices or diapering choices. And quite frankly, we have exploited your new mom nerves for millions of dollars in product after product guaranteed to make your baby healthier and happier.

I see you in the mommy groups asking all the questions and seeking support just to be inundated with strong opinions and unhealthy expectations.

First time moms, what you need is encouragement. And here it is.  From a fourth time “new mom,” here are a few thoughts. 

  1. In case you were wondering, you’re doing an amazing job. You’re scouring the Internet for the right answers because you care SO MUCH for that little bundle of joy, and it shows. Now step away from Google and let it go.  Ask another trusted mom friend who has older children. Ask your pediatrician. Trust your instincts, but don’t subject yourself to the myriad of opinions out there that are guaranteed to overwhelm you and make you doubt yourself. 
  2. This too shall pass. No matter what “it” is, it will pass. No phase will last long enough to make you completely insane (maybe close though) and right when you’ve formulated the perfect plan of attack for mitigating the issue at hand, it will just resolve on it’s own.  So if you feel like you’re at your breaking point with a sleep issue or a temper tantrum issue or a picky eater, just hold on a bit longer and the tide will turn.  Parenting is an endurance sport.
  3. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to parenting, and don’t believe anyone who tells you there is. Kids are people too. They are little people with strange quirks and unique needs, and we are all happier if we can respect them as individuals without expecting robotic compliance. I have a son who eats paper. I have to constantly remind him to stop eating paper… there was nothing about that in the cookie cutter approach to raising children.  He’s “unique” this way.
  4. It’s ok to lower your expectations a bit. And then lower them again and again and again.   I have friends who post the most beautiful pictures on social media of their children. They are dressed well and clean and their houses look beautiful in the background and their photos look like they were taken with professional cameras.  I line up my children to take a picture, and what do I see?  Abject chaos.  Now I have learned to take a deep breath, lower my expectations, and laugh because, like it or not, this is us.  The abject chaos is us.  Maybe you expected to have a child who was always well-behaved… lower those expectations, sister. Kids have bad days and ugly phases. Maybe you expected to stroll happily through the store cooing and gooing at your beautiful baby, but instead you got a fussy one who screams every. single. time. they. are. buckled. in. a. carseat.  I’m currently living this, and I’m learning to let it go (can’t you tell?).  Things never go perfectly according to our expectations. If something has to give, let it be the expectations and not your sanity.
  5. Find yourself in the midst of it all. This parenting thing is all consuming. It takes up every bit of who you are, but you have to find time to do something that brings you joy too. Meet the friend for coffee even if baby misses a nap. Go for a walk and remember that there’s a great, big, beautiful world out there. Buy the shirt that covers the postpartum tummy and makes you feel good about yourself again. Listen to the song that makes your hips shake. Go on a date. Love that baby more than anything in the world, but don’t forget to love yourself along the way. If a pitcher is constantly pouring out, eventually it will be empty. Take time to fill yourself up.

I’m sorry that you’re entering into first-time parenting in a social media, information overload, everything is controversial world.  I’m sorry that there are people who pretend to have it all together to make themselves feel superior to you.  I’m sorry that we’ve taken something that was already hard and made it even harder.

But please know that there’s an army of women rooting for you. 

Women who pour their hearts out to you in blogs solely because they don’t know how to find you to hug you in real life.  Women who remember those first days (or years) of motherhood and want to wrap you up in encouragement and love and support and cheer you on every step of the way! 

You can do this. You were uniquely, fearfully, wonderfully made to do this. And you’re not alone.