Sidenote here: when I say “mothers,” I really mean “mothers and others,” or anyone who mothers children.
The ideas I share below are based on my own experiences as mother to three wild things and from the lessons I’ve learned supporting hundreds of families (and mothers) just like you. Mothers are in the thick of it all, trying to figure out how in the heck to do this job and retain some semblance of self. This advice is by no means the only way to do this, just my thoughts!
First, let’s remember that a mother does not exist alone. In order to be a mother, there is a whole OTHER person required: your child.
Mothering is a relationship, not a skill. It is something you do in concert with your child, or children.
This transition to becoming a mother is incredibly intense, and many of us, even those who were confident people prior to motherhood, may find themselves questioning everything they thought they knew about themselves and expected from the parenting experience.
So, my first tip: Listen to your baby.
Your baby is a whole person, complete with their own preferences, needs, values, personality, everything! A whole person just like anyone else we’re in a relationship with. And in relationships, we LISTEN to each other. Listen to your baby first, before you listen to anyone else who wants to tell you how to do this whole parenthood thing. Your baby knows what she wants and needs. She knows how to get her preferences met and she knows how to communicate with you. This listening is a muscle we must build - it isn’t always instinctive or natural. But the more effort we put into it, the more benefit we will receive. And the benefit with children is TRUST.
Second tip: Educate ourselves.
At every step of the parenting journey, we need to be learning. Birth classes are great (sign up now!) but our educational needs don’t end there. Take classes. Read books. Find a mentor. Observe others, and when we admire their mothering skills, speak with them. Make sure your sources are credible. Then, discard any information that doesn’t pass a vibe check. Literally! If the advice or information you’re learning doesn’t match your own values or preferences, then you can simply let that information go and not use it.
Final tip? Build your team.
Surround yourself with supporters: people who believe you will achieve your goals as a mother. Those are the kind of supportive people we want around us and whom we will rely on when we need encouragement, validation and affirmation. You’re going to have people in your life who love you and who are well-intentioned, but don’t necessarily believe in your ability to achieve the goal. Those are not the people to turn to when you need encouragement. Instead, they’ll erode your budding confidence. Pre-identify who those people are. Talk to them, and share your goal. Ask them to be your cheerleader.
You know your baby better than anyone else in this whole world. You don’t have to be a perfect mother - what does that even mean?
But I guarantee you are the BEST mother for your baby.
For more on parenting you might also like: Let Children Think For Themselves.