Finding Passion in Motherhood When It Doesn’t Come Naturally.
Confession: I’m an unnatural mother.
Motherhood did not come naturally for me.
When my first child was born I didn’t feel that overwhelming feeling that I always heard and read about.
He was a baby. My baby. And I was joyful. But I didn’t feel some RUSH of emotion.
I didn’t look at him and instantly feel connected or think “I’d DIE for you” like I thought I would.
I don’t recognize my baby’s cries. When I’m in a crowd and hear a baby crying I’ll ask “is that one of mine?” because I’m never quite sure.
And often I get it wrong and will rush to check on my child only to find out it wasn’t them crying at all.
I’ve always heard that motherhood comes naturally.
That as women we are genetically inclined to nurture and once a baby has lived in our womb we are instantly a mother and have those motherhood instincts.
Not only do I not think this is true, but I think it’s a lie we need to stop telling people.
It’s HARD to be a new mom. A first time mom.
It’s hard with a newborn. Hard to make decisions and figure out what is best for YOUR baby.
It’s already easy enough to become trapped in a cycle of worry and mom-guilt and overthinking.
It’s already SO EASY with all the stress, lack of sleep, and crazy hormones to slip into a postpartum depression situation. (Which I’ve dealt with myself)
We don’t need the added pressure to “trust our instincts” and “let motherhood come naturally.”
An unnatural mother does not mean the same thing as an unfit mom or bad mom.
In my circumstance? I believe the exact opposite is true.
I went into motherhood not feeling like I had that “motherhood gene.”
I went in not only not trusting MY gut but also not trusting the situation in which I was raised.
I know so many fellow moms who call up their mom with every question and concern and can feel confident in doing with their baby whatever their mom did with them or do whatever she advices or whatever their own memories of their childhood
But I don’t have that. And in my desire to be different in many areas in which I was raised, I didn’t ask someone else advice. And I also didn’t rely on my “gut” or what I had always known.
I sought out advice. I researched. I poured into motherhood like it was my major and like I was studying for my college exam in motherhood 101.
I knew I didn’t have motherhood naturally. I knew I didn’t have it from a relationship. So I had to find it on my own.
I put in WORK.
Motherhood is my passion. Not because I love it, although I do very fiercely, but because I have worked SO DANG HARD at it.
I read books. I sought out blogs.
Even now with four kids under my belt I still seek out knowledge from other moms I admire.
I see older children that I want my kids to be like? I ask their mom for advice.
It’s okay not to have it all together. It’s NORMAL to not feel like you’re an instant pro-mom after giving birth.
That’s why we have community. That’s why we need each other.
I remember the first three weeks of motherhood so vividly. I doubted myself constantly. Didn’t feel like I could figure out my child let alone my new identity as a parent.
Then I found Babywise. And I know I’ve said it many times but it’s SO TRUE – it was a GAME CHANGER for myself, my baby, and our lives.
Not only did my bond with my first baby grow stronger with time, but my bonds with my consecutive babies came more quickly and easily than mine did with that first one.
Motherhood isn’t always natural. But once we experience it? It becomes our full heart and our identity in such a huge, amazing way.
I knew the love a mother has for her child. I knew the amazing gift I had in having my first baby.
So each baby following him I felt those intense mom-bond feelings and emotions earlier, quicker, and with more intensity.
And the more babies I had? The more I started to trust myself. My gut. My newly formed instincts.
No, they weren’t ingrained at me. Those instincts I now have? They are LEARNED traits. Practiced over a decade of parenting.
I can lean on my OWN past decisions. Draw from my OWN learned experiences.
And more than any book or any other mom – I can lean on HIS understanding. HIS grace. HIS mercies.
Because that’s the difference y’all. I’m not a good mom because it came naturally for me.
I’m not a good mom because I was always meant to be a mother. Destined to this role.
I’m a good mom because I look above more than I look behind. I look to HIM rather than allow myself to go down a path of fear of who I might be on my own.
I work hard to be the mom I am. I do not believe every mother is built with those motherhood instincts. Every mother isn’t a “natural mom.”
But with the decision and drive to BE a great mom – anyone can be.
You don’t have to have an ideal upbringing, a close relationship with your own parents, an intense emotion towards your child the moment they are born.
You don’t have to be perfect. You don’t have to just KNOW what your baby needs when they need it.
You just have to love your child. Love yourself. Recognize the areas in which you need help and then seek it out.
There is nothing shameful in asking for advice. Asking for prayers. Asking for wisdom and insight from those who have walked the path before you.
There is nothing wrong with using parenting books. Trusting experts in the field. Figuring out what works for you, your baby, and your family and then being super hardcore about it.
Sometimes I have had people put me down for using Babywise. I’ve been told I should just do the things I know are best for my babies rather than following “some book” so closely.
Sometimes I’ve felt envious of mothers who seem to have it all happen so naturally.
Who breastfeed with ease. Who are so in tune to their babies needs that they don’t even seem to worry or think about what is best – they just KNOW.
But then I think about the kind of mom I am. The passion I have for parenting. And that comes from my lack of instinct. The lack of naturalness in my motherhood abilities.
I’m a better mom because I’m an unnatural mom.
I’m a better mom because I don’t just KNOW what to do.
And I bet those of you reading this who think you’re an unnatural mom? I bet that you’re a better mom for it too.