I worried about a lot of random things when I was a brand new mom. (I mean, who doesn't?) They were things I didn't have to spend time worrying about, but things that seemed impossible not to worry about. Because I was, you know, just figuring out how to take care of a tiny, little human...
But there are some things I definitely could have let go of a little sooner than I did. And now that I'm a mom three times over, those things are a bit clearer (hindsight, amirite?).
I wish I could have told my new mom self not to waste time obsessing over...
1. Worrying about forgetting to feed my baby
I was really nervous I was going to forget to feed my baby. So I set alarms every two hours to remind myself that she might be hungry again. While this was actually super helpful for me in those first few hazy, exhausted weeks of adjusting to having a newborn—I did this for a loooong time after those hazy days cleared up.
Looking back, I think it caused me undue anxiety. I eventually trusted myself and my baby in knowing when she was hungry because she showed me her cues that I learned how to read. We figured it out together, as a team. (Without involving Pavlov's theory…)
2. Worrying about making sure everything was "perfect"
I had to get my baby perfectly dressed in "outfits" every day—whether we were leaving the house or not. And she had to have the matching headband on, too. (Fast-forward to baby number three and she is happy and thriving and healthy and also well-versed in rocking her 'jams, hold the headband.)
Don't get me wrong, having a baby and dressing them in the CUTEST little outfits is So. Much. Fun! But making sure she looked 100% perfect at every moment caused me a lot of anxiety (and tardiness).
3. Worrying about remembering EVERYTHING
I felt so much pressure to document Every. Single. Thing. Did I photograph that perfectly-accessorized outfit? Did I remember to journal about what we did today? Did I print out photos from this month? Did I save that baby hat from the hospital? Did I remember the day of the week, date, and exact time that she rolled over for the first time? Did I remember to accurately tell the doctor everything she's currently doing at each well visit?
I wanted to remember everything she did and every noise she made and every smile she dazzled me with—same for babies two and three. I don't think that feeling ever goes away. I think I'll always be a little afraid of loosening the grip and saying goodbye to each stage we pass through.
But, we're allowed to take some pressure off of ourselves. We can't always memorize Every. Little. Detail of what's going on. We love our children, yes, of course! BUT—we are also busy people with a lot happening. We will remember what we remember—and that's okay.
4. Worrying about trusting myself
I'd worry what other people would think if I thought she should go to the doctor or to the ER when the doctor's office was closed. I thought people would think I was a hypochondriac. I wondered what people thought of my choosing to nurse her to sleep or why I wanted to start her right on vegetables instead of rice cereal. I second guessed myself over and over. I listened to so many outside voices, it was hard to hear my own.
I've since realized that learning to trust my motherly instinct and intuition is one of my best assets and strongest superpower. It took time for me, but I eventually got there.
5. Worrying about what I "should" be doing during the day
I thought there were secret rules of things you "should" or "shouldn't" be doing during the day as a new stay-at-home mom. I "should" be reading to her a certain amount. I "should" be keeping the house clean and managing the laundry and dishes and grocery shopping. I "should" be bringing her to a baby music class.
So, mama? Do as I eventually learned to do: whatever it is I needed or wanted to do. Sit down and take a break with a book or a TV show. (Seriously—take a break.) Do the laundry or save it for the weekend. Apply for jobs, look for freelance work, dream about your next project, start a business. Plan a family vacation, organize your closet, take a nap, meet up with friends, go for a drive—whatever you want. This is your life.
A great deal of what I worried about is what other people thought of me. What I was most afraid of is that people wouldn't think I was a good mom. That people would think I didn't know what I was doing or that I was making too many mistakes.
But spoiler alert: all new moms both know what they're doing and don't know what they're doing at all. We're all going to make mistakes, it's inevitable. I still make mistakes. And my guess is that I will continue to do so in 10 years, 20 years, etc.
Lucky for us, our children forgive quickly and love unconditionally.
The secret of motherhood is: there are no rules. You create your own, mama, so do what works best for you and your family.