"April 29, 2005 -- The Transition from not being a mother to being a mother is a huge one—-and one that is not talked about adequately. I don't think anyone can be completely ready for the magnitude of the transition, but I do think that it would have been nice to be a little more prepared. I don't know if it has to do with age; like the longer you wait the more experience you have in living life without the child responsibly and so when the baby comes, it's such a drastic comparison from your pre-baby days.
I can remember longing for a baby; a cute, sweet baby that would be an expression of our love—a child to call my own. No way did I realize that attached to that miracle would be so many adjustments; so many emotions, both positive and negative. Not to mention a physical, emotional and mental challenge like no other.
So how does one make the transition from "career woman" to motherhood with grace and ease? Is it even possible? I'd like to think that I can figure that out through my own experience, trials, errors and intuition."
The above is a journal entry from when my daughter was just two months old. It is now two plus years later. Wow. Where has the time gone? Being a parent in the midst of caring for an infant is one of those times in your life where you feel like it's always going to be that way. And then you look back each month and then each year and realize that each stage is actually rather quick, and before you know it you are sitting at the dinner table having a conversation with your two year old about why birds don't wear diapers and get to poop on the ground.
Well, more than two years into it I can say that I have figured some things out. I am not sure how graceful it all looked or how easy it all felt, but I did make that initial transition from mother-less to mother-hood and have lived to tell about it. And here’s what I learned was the most important.
1. Recreating my definitions of success as a mother and a professional. The longer and harder I held onto old definitions or someone else's definitions the more overwhelmed and depressed I felt. Once I realized that I could choose how I want to show up as a mother, a wife and a professional (and I was willing the think outside the box), the more content and happier I became in all my roles.
2. Being gentle and compassionate with myself. Although everyone else was telling me to take it easy and not worry about being Super Woman with a new baby, my internal critic kept telling me that I wasn't doing enough and what I was doing I could be doing better. When I asked myself what I would be telling my best friend in the same situation, I realized that I was much harder on myself than I would be on anyone else.
3. Letting go of guilt, worry, comparisons, standards, judgment and perfectionism. Okay, I know this is a tall order, but it's so true. As new moms we can get so caught in what the experts say we should be concerned about, and how others are doing it, and what are the right ways versus the wrong ways to doing things. For many of us, we carry over the perfectionism that came in so handy as a professional, but which will drive us towards insanity if we hold on to as moms. There is no handbook for motherhood. And those books out there that claim they are, are only based on someone else's experience (just like this article). The relationship between mother and baby changes, evolves and grows so much throughout the first couple of years. To expect that we will know exactly what to do and how to respond in this new relationship and this new role...well, that really is insanity.
As I have continued to practice (I'll admit that sometimes I fall off the bandwagon) and follow these guidelines over the past couple of years, I have felt my confidence and enjoyment as a mother increase. I have also found that I am less concerned and judgmental about how other mothers are choosing their journey. For one thing I know for sure is that this is all just a series of stages—a blip on the lifetime line. And I want to look back on this series of stages, called motherhood, with feelings of joy, peace and gratitude and know that I did the best I could...and enjoyed it along the way!