Jeran and I are alumnae from the same university. We knew each other only in passing in our undergraduate years. Later, thanks to Facebook, Jeran and I surprised ourselves by being more alike than we ever dreamed. Jeran's guest post today is an honest look at her struggle to be a "good or bad" mother as she compared herself to the way other moms did motherhood. Jeran makes the point (a good one) that embracing the fact that we are all different is awesome! Read the post! It is wonderful... also- LOOOOOOK at her BEAUTIFUL baby! EEK! THAT hair is adorable! For more of Jeran's writing check her out at her blog: Story Time with Jerbear
I guess I’m the type of mom that when another mom friend asks me if my baby is sleeping through the night, ten minutes later I’m in the middle of my daughter’s birth story and I have no idea how I’ve gotten there. Before my daughter Blanche, I never really knew how I’d be as a mother. I knew I would love my kids, and in my inexperienced mind, I figured most of the other “details” didn’t matter too much.
Once my daughter Blanche was born in October of 2011, I soon began to realize that my personality carries over into my mothering. I mean, of course. Duh. But I guess I had these high hopes that my oldest child, somewhat compulsive, verbally-processing-things-to-death personality wouldn’t carry over. But it did. The thing that has always frustrated me about myself is that I feel I have two sides to myself. The first side is a fairly laid back, fun loving, artistic person who just really loves life. The other side, tends to over think, clean way too much, and stress about things that I know I shouldn’t. After I married I started to see this even more in myself, and now as a mother, I can really see these two sides. It’s not that one side is really good or bad... its mostly seeing and realizing that sometimes the person I am and the person I really want to be... or like being, isn’t always the same.
There has always been a part of me that compares like crazy. Maybe that’s most women. My husband says its from the devil. And I’m pretty sure he’s right. These last six months of motherhood I have constantly caught myself comparing. Even still, tonight I saw some mom with a baby who didn’t look a month old... and her stomach looked so flat to me. And then after comparing, I start judging... and then all of the sudden I am this person I would never want my own daughter to be. I want Blanche to love herself for who she is. I want her to dress how she wants, and to be healthy... not skinny. I want Blanche to wear makeup for fun, but not to feel like that’s what makes her beautiful. I try to be aware of my own self, and watch what I do, but I really feel there is something much deeper in this whole “comparison” thing than I realize. It may sound ridiculous, but I honestly think social media has been effecting me negatively in many ways. When I scroll through my newsfeed on facebook as I nurse my daughter to sleep, I see status and posts and videos of other babies and moms and start comparing. And then judging. I begin either judging myself or those other moms. If we are different, than someone is wrong. Am I the bad mom? Or is she?
I talked with my own mom about some of this a few weeks ago. She picked up on my comparison talk pretty quickly saying, “What is all this worrying about other moms and other babies? When I was a mom, I was young and inexperienced and I just did what I knew. I nursed you when you cried. I didn’t go read all these books and than compare myself to other moms.”
Hmm. Why is it so easy to compare? I guess because 25 years ago when my mom was having her babies, she didn’t scroll through a live feed of what other mothers and babies were doing. If her babies didn’t take a good nap, I’m sure she complained to my dad or her sister on the phone. Nowadays, I see live updates of nap times and babies that have “slept through the night”. What?? Blanche takes 45 minute naps and doesn’t sleep through the night? Something MUST BE WRONG. Why is my baby so complicated? Am I doing something I shouldn’t? Oh, that baby sleeps in a crib? Blanche co-sleeps. Am I wrong? And before I know it, crazy-Jeran comes out. Comparing, worrying, over-thinking. It is not like I sit around all day doing this, but I do think it begins to build on a person. I honestly thought for awhile that maybe I shouldn’t even have facebook. But honestly that may be the easy way out. Because, like I said earlier, I think that comparison is rooted much deeper than it may first seem. When I compare, I do it because I feel insecure or inadequate. That mom has a flat stomach? Well, the only reason I even care is because I feel insecure about my own body after having a baby. The answer is not getting rid of facebook or to not read anyone’s blog. The answer is to rejoice with other mothers when their baby slept through the night. Mine didn’t? That’s okay. I should be happy for a mom who was able to get some rest!
What I had wanted to do before I even had a baby was to bring life into the world and love that baby more than anyone else. And I have done that. Job well done. All mothers should get a job well done. You carried that baby and grew it for nine months? You pushed that thing out of you, or had your body cut open?? Job well done. You have kept your child alive all this time? Job well done.
Every human being is different. So no mom’s status on facebook is going to be the same. No baby is going to sleep the same or nurse the same. I have so many things that I would like to improve on so I can become a better mother to my daughter Blanche, but first I have to accept myself for who I am before I can accept my child for who she is. I have to accept the fact that I am doing my best, and that I am a good mother. Then I can realize that Blanche is human, and while she is an amazing baby, she too will have her struggles, and that I am here as her mother to help and love her through them... rather than comparing her to others.