My first year of motherhood was all about proving.
Proving I could breastfeed past a year.
Proving I could keep a little human happy and thriving.
Proving I could keep up with everything I did before motherhood.
There was a lot of proving and pressure and people-pleasing that was going on in year one. I was so focused on small details that ultimately stole my joy in the first few months postpartum.
Year two of motherhood was quite different. Something finally clicked by the time my son turned one.
It actually happened one month before when we were on a family trip to New York City. I can remember the exact moment when I finally began to let go of all the proving and the pressure to be the perfect mom.
We were in the middle of Central Park and my son started to fuss. He was clearly hungry. I got frustrated because this was not in our plans. I didn't even have my nursing cover which I had been using for all of our public nursing sessions. However, this time, instead of starting to panic I just went with the flow.
I plopped down in the middle of a field and nursed my son with a type of ease and confidence that had been unfamiliar to me the past 11 months. The anxious heart and the shaking hands finally left me. At that moment, I finally felt like I could own being a mom. It felt natural; I felt confident.
That day was just the beginning of a new mindset I would carry with me through the next year of motherhood. Not to say that year two was not marked with worry, anxiety and doubt, but there were a significant amount of fewer tears.
I spent the whole first year worrying about how everyone viewed me as a mother: my husband, mother-in-law, friend, the cashier at the store, and that random stranger at the park. After that moment where motherhood confidence finally clicked for me, I was able to let go of my ever-tight need to be approved and praised for my mothering skills. I finally truly believed I was a good mom and that was enough.
This second year of motherhood has ultimately taught me to own who I am as a mom. To not only own it, but to be confident in it. It has given me the ability to not just say this is who I am as a mother, but this is exactly the type of mom my son needs. This type of thinking was absolutely foreign to me in the early days of motherhood.
In the early postpartum days, I was scrambling to be the type of mom I saw all over my social media feed. The one that only made homemade organic baby food. The one that seemed to have it all together. The one that also somehow managed to run a business and have a perfectly tidy home and a marriage that was untouched by a new baby.
It is exhausting to pretend to be someone you simply are not. None of those things felt even remotely possible to me in the first year. I was trying to be a type of mom that was not true to who I was. I was trying to be perfect when all I was ever called to be was present. Present to my son. Present to my family. Present to my authentic mom-self.
With this sense of presence, I was finally able to step into motherhood with deep-rooted confidence. I was no longer looking outwardly for the praise, approval and affirmation that I was in fact a good mom. Instead, I knew deep within my bones that I was a good mom.
This changed everything for me.
It allowed the imperfect circumstances I found myself in to not shake me like they would have a few months back. Life is most definitely not perfect. The floors are always a mess, the meals are only half-homemade, but the love and the confidence are finally in the full picture. I am no longer grasping for approval and praise from others. I know I am a good mom. I know I am exactly what my son needs.