I was talking to a mother today about the friction that was created in her marriage after the birth of her son. This conversation was sparked by the fact that she and another mama were both experiencing late-onset postpartum depression. Or, they think they might be. They are also concerned about the fact that it seems their marriage has become more of a roommate relationship than a true romantic, loving marriage like it was before the baby arrived.
I think our society puts mothers on a pedestal, but a gilded one with no support. We are supposed to be everything to everyone, joyfully giving up our previous lives and identity in order to raise this new precious being, while it appears that our husbands are allowed to continue on in pretty much the same lifestyle they had pre-baby.
Mothering is hard. Parenting is hard. We are just people, and a lot of times we drag along a hefty amount of baggage. No mother wants to bequest her offspring, the unblemished fruit of her loins, with the issues that she has struggled her whole life to conquer. Raising a new person to be a valued part of society is a monumental task – it is certainly the heaviest and most important challenge that I personally have ever faced.
My advice to new mamas: Breathe deep, and relax. You will be fine. Your baby will be fine. Practice forgiveness by giving it often and freely – to yourself, and to your husband. He probably knows less about this whole baby thing than you, and is just as flustered. Your standards should be high, but not to the point of perfection. Forgive yourself if you don’t meet them every day.
One of the blessings of children is their ability to forgive so readily. I’m amazed by the fact that on my worst day, when I feel like a total failure of a mother, that my daughter can throw her arms around me and tell me she loves me, and that I’m “the best mama in the whole world”. So trust me – your child thinks you are the greatest mama/papa/person on the planet. Try to believe the same. This parenting journey is a whole lot more fun, sans guilt.