Being a stay-at-home mom for the first time, I struggled.
I blame my type-A personality that I inherited from my mother. For some reason, I thought my first baby would fit into a perfect baby book mold. I thought that he would sleep and eat and do things the way I wanted, when I wanted.
Turns out, he had a plan of his own, which unfortunately, went completely against my own plan.
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The contrast between the plan of my newborn son and my own rookie-first-time-mom plan was both drastic and…stark. This of course resulted in the perfect combination for countless first-time mama meltdowns.
Oh yes. There. Were. Tears.
I was so overwhelmed by new motherhood that I could barely remember how to shower. When my husband returned to work after paternity leave, he would come home at the end of the day, and I’d still be in my pajamas.
The house was a mess. There were no meals prepared. I’m pretty sure I was living off of protein bars alone at that point. All I could manage to do all day was try to figure out how in the world to take care of a little baby.
Related: 9 Quick & Clever Mealtime Hacks for Busy Moms
It was time for a change.
I was reading an article last week about the “number one life hack” for lasting relationships, which led me to Brene Brown’s Ted Talk on Vulnerability. It’s been viewed over 21 million times, which screams must-watch and doesn’t disappoint.
During her talk she shares the difference between people who thrive and those that don’t. It struck a chord with me because the whole time I’m sitting there listening and thinking…
This is about moms.
I thought about myself as a first-time mom. I thought about my epic meltdowns. I thought about the basket case. I thought about the short-comings of my type A personality.
And then I thought about all the moms who are just like me. The mom who starts out fumbling her way along, overwhelmed, tearful, and fearful. The mom who doesn’t have it all figured out, despite trying to have it all figured out. The mom—just like every mom before her—who needs to learn motherhood through real-life experience rather than through set of step-by-step instructions.
And then I thought about all the moms who turn it all around.
Somewhere along the way things fall into place, you discover a routine, you find your voice, and you start to thrive.
What do resilient mothers do differently?
For the longest time, I couldn’t put my finger on exactly what characteristics made a mom thrive. It was right there on the tip of my tongue, but I couldn’t articulate it.
Brown’s Ted Talk on Vulnerability turned the light bulb on for me. She summarized all the characteristics of a thriving, resilient mother into one perfect little package. Here’s how…
You see your kids as imperfect and wired for struggle.
When your kids throw a tantrum, won’t listen or disobey, you know they’re just regular little people trying to figure the world out. You know they will experience challenges and struggles in every stage of life and it’s normal.
You love with your whole heart even though there is no guarantee.
Everyday you take a chance and love your kids, family and friends whole-heartedly, knowing that you may not receive the same feelings in return. You are willing to take a chance on love despite the risk of hurt or pain.
You practice gratitude and joy.
You discover a positive side to most life experiences, no matter how challenging or difficult they may seem. You appreciate both the good and the bad. You find joy in everyday moments.
Related: 31 Days of Printable Affirmations for Moms
You believe you are enough.
You believe you are worthy of love and connection. Despite your imperfections and short-comings, you know you are a good mom, partner, friend and person.
You have the courage to be imperfect.
You know that what makes you imperfect makes you beautiful. You aren’t afraid of a little self-deprecation. You’re willing to share the good, bad and the ugly even if it portrays you in an unfavorable light.
You have the compassion to be kind to yourself first.
You know that in order to be kind to others, you have to be kind to yourself first. Maybe you take a girls’ afternoon a few times each month just for you. Or maybe you take a weekend getaway with your husband. What ever you choose, you know being a selfish mom on occasion is good for everyone.
You embrace vulnerability for the sake of connection.
You willingly expose yourself at weakest moments in order to build relationships with others. You open your heart despite the possibility of rejection or negative feedback.
Things are different now.
I often think back to those first few months when I first became a mom nearly two and a half years ago. I can’t help but chuckle inside when I think about how much I’ve changed and grown in such a short period of time. And I can’t help but chuckle knowing I will change again in the coming years.
I don’t know that I’m a better mom, but I am a different mom.
I’m more at peace with my imperfections. I’m more relaxed about things not going a particular way. I’m able to find some sliver of humor in the really, really tough days. Okay, well not every day, but many days.
I can tell you’re that kind of mom too.
You might not know it yet, but you are.
Because mama, your imperfections, vulnerability, failings, short-comings, and sometimes selfish moments are what make you one helluva resilient, strong, and thriving parent.
It’s not easy being imperfect and show-casing it for the world to see.
But you’re doing it.
And it looks beautiful.
Want more on motherhood?
- 5 Unspoken Truths About Being a Stay-at-Home Mom
- When Motherhood Feels Heavy, Remember This…
- This Moment Is Fleeting…
- Dear Mom Who Feels Like a Terrible Mother
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Heather aka HoJo
Love this post! I am a first time mom to a 7-month-old, and it’s quite an adjustment – as you well know. However, we have a routine down and I’d like to think that most days I feel like I know what I’m doing. This post gave me affirmation that I’m doing alright. I’m off to share it across my networks to others mom who may need some positive reinforcement may than me can enjoy it. Thank you!
Thank you so much for sharing!
I”m not a mom but when I read your post, I love my mom so much.
Love love love this post! SO perfect! We all want to be the perfect mom (you know, the one that doesn’t exist). I love where you said, “have the courage to be imperfect.” It’s hard to transition to having kids- and then all the various stages that comes with the journey. Such an uplifting post- thanks for sharing!
You are so welcome!
Not going to lie. It was a rough day here. I needed to read this post.
Courage to be imperfect — yep, need to work on that one right now.
Sharing and pinning this so more mommas that need to read it get to see it.
Christina! I’m so glad this encouraged you. Everything is already perfect the way that it is, and all the parenting tools you need are already inside you. You just have to find them, draw them out and allow them to shine! Thank you for sharing!
Doing Good Together™
Thank you for sharing this wise advice – especially for new moms. Too often, we feel we have to give, give, give in order to help others, including our children, but we forget that we have to give to ourselves too. Kindness to others begins with kindness to oneself. As we model self-kindness to our kids (and show gratitude and compassion too) our children will be better able to learn lessons in kindness, empathy, and service to others.
I love this! This is me and I continually need reminders from myself and others to do what I need to do. Great read x
This post is amazing when I was a first time mom I had no idea what I was doing. On top of that I was a single mother with my first and worked full time. I tried to plan for everything but no one prepares you for working 24 hour shifts and then coming home and taking care of a baby who doesn’t want to sleep. I tried so hard to make sure that everything was perfect, but I had a lot of guilt as a working mom. I thought my son would hate me for the long hours that I worked. I had a lot of mommy shamers and even my own family was not very supportive. They did not understand my job as an emt or why I worked such long hours. I made out schedules for my son when I was away and very specific instructions. However, things did not always work the way I wanted them to. There were things that I missed and things that fell through the cracks but I just kept pushing through to this day I still have no Idea how I made it through paramedic school but I did. The majority of the time I felt like I was failing my son. Your children learn from you and as a mother I feel like you have no choice but to be resilient. Your children depend on you an being a military spouse is a lot like being a single mother. My husband is in the army now and I work and go to school full time. It is difficult to manage everything sometimes but some how I do it. Not without wanting to lock myself in a room and just cry sometimes. Its normal to be vulnerable and have short comings all you can do is keep pushing on and try to do better the next day.
Nicole | The Professional Mom Project
I love this thank you! Learning how to be resilient is so important but not really taught. I can’t wait to check out the TED tLk you mention. Sharing this on my Facebook page so it will inspire others as well.
This is the second time I have come to this post and I agree with you the first time even though I was dealing pretty well with my daughter and all the other responsibilities we decided we must keep up with seeing as we have been given the opportunity to stay home with our babies.
But five years ago I had a baby I was expecting to have change my world plus my sister in law moved in (due to her own issues) who is a child care worker so I felt for my first child I had someone watching over me making it a lot easier.
Once my daughter got a personality and was able to use her own voice the help from my sister in law wasn’t as consistent but by that time I had things working pretty smoothly anyway.
I now have a little boy as well. He is just over 4 months old and he was unexpected (and I mean we had no clue for the whole 9 months until I was giving birth at home with dad on the phone with paramedics and trying to keep our daughter from running in the room).
Now I think I am accepting this overwhelmed feeling as normal. I spent a week in hospital with him as he had to get extra tests done (5yo was in and out within 2 days) during this time and the following week I had to reassure 5yo that she wasn’t being replaced. Spent the first 2 months also trying to give her a crash course in being a big sister, not to mention dad got fired from his job 2 weeks after I got back and was struggling to get a new one due to COVID.
Dad not being able to work kind of helped as he did all the house work while I fussed with the kids and jumped in whenever I needed a hand. But now his back in work but the job keeps him away from home Monday to Friday and is only home for weekends, he comes home to a pigsty (toys everywhere, sometimes 4 days of washing and a pile of dishes still from the night before).
It’s like I’m doing the whole first time mum thing with my second and it wasn’t till I read this again that I realised why. Thank you for writing these real feelings for public viewing and for not deleting the post either. The only 2 people in my life both have kids who have a large gap in age, the only person I can turn to who had kids at the exact same age difference is my mum who doesn’t remember much about raising us any more or my grandparents whom have both passed away.
So after all that information/long winded story, I mostly wanted to comment saying Thank you for a truthful blog post that made me feel a little bit more normal than I have in just over 4 months.