Saturday, June 9, 2012

Why being a new mom is like being a 7th grader

I keep trying (and failing) to write a blog post. In fact, I've got two really (potentially) good posts half-baked but every time I try to finish them, my would-be brilliant insight just kinda fizzles. I start with a really good point and end up with crickets chirping in my mental void. So I thought I'd just start writing with no plan, no point, and see what came out.

Primarily to blame for the lack of blogging of late is my unbelievably scattered "mommy brain" (so much worse than "pregnancy brain"). When I have down-time (rarely) it seems near impossible to straighten my thoughts out enough to form full sentences. And in regards to wit, grammar, spelling, depth and flow? Forget about it.

Of course, there is also this pair of blond, blue-eyed cuties taking up most of my time, will and brain-power:

But I can't really hold it against them that I'm seemingly incapable of blogging. (Besides, I really don't want to become a mom who spends more time blogging about my kids than interacting with them.)

I think though, my blogging hiatus has been caused by more than mere distractions and a brain departed. I've got this tender new identity as a mom, which seems to means that I'm more sensitive to criticism than I used to be. I try to be really laid-back with my parenting and trust my instinct, but feel like I don't know what I'm doing a large portion of the time and that can be a scary place for a high-achiever to be. It's harder still when people make comments (well-meaning or otherwise) or give a little look that suggests that I'm falling short as a mom. 

When people make judgement about me - when it's just about me - I try to not let it bother me (at least not deeply and permanently). But judgements about me as a mother (perceived, passive-aggressive, accidental, or actual) reflect not just on me, but on the well-being, development, and survival of two helpless little people that I'm responsible for. That makes any critiques really hard to bear right now. So when it comes to blogging and sharing my thoughts, struggles, opinions and experiences, it's not as easy as it once was. Part of me is hesitant to write about anything much because I'm trying to protect the shaky identity I'm developing as a new mom. Pair that with a brain full of fragmented thoughts and here my blog sits silent. 

I know some of my feelings of judgement are perceived only. Like back in middle school when you are sure that the girls whispering are talking about you and you are sure that everyone in the room is staring at your long, gangling legs. Being a new mom is like that - your confidence is wobbly, you are not sure who you are or what you are doing but you are sure that everyone else is judging you as much as you are judging yourself. "Mom-guilt" I believe it's called and it's a doozy. 

So yes, some of this is just in my head. Not everyone looking at me in the grocery store thinks I'm in over my head with the twins (but oh if I had a dollar for every time I've heard the words, "Well don't you have your hands full!"). And some of the time I'm just being overly-sensitive. But some of the time, mom-guilt is real (though I know very little of it is ill-intended) and it's intense. 

It is hard as a parent to not feel judged and to not be offended by other's comments and observations on your parenting (or on parenting in general). A friend of mine once commented during my pregnancy (when I had unintentionally offended some people with my thoughts on natural childbirth), "Welcome to parenting - it's the most volatile topic EVER." Boy was she right. 

As someone who is pretty outspoken with my thought/feelings/views, this new sensitivity is a two-sided-coin. On one hand, I don't want to share for fear of being found lacking. On the other hand, I want to share openly because I really feel it's important to be honest about ones struggles in the hopes of encouraging someone else in the same boat that they are not alone. On the other, other hand (apparently this is a three-sided, three-handed coin), I'm more aware that the opinions I share could be hurtful to someone and make them feel judged by me. 

Oy. What to do with all of this? I have no idea. To share? To hush up? To be sensitive? To grow thicker skin? Maybe some Frankenstein-esque combination of all of them. I'm not sure, but I am seeing how important it is for a new mom (or just a mom in general) to feel like she's doing a good job with her kids. Okay yes, there are some moms whose parenting needs an intervention, and there are times when we mess up. But for the most part, most of us are just doing the best we can and that needs to be good enough for those around us - whether they fully agree, or have a different opinion or think there is a "better" way. We all can show each other a little more grace in the parenting department, myself (to myself and to others) included. 

(Showing myself grace is proving to be the most challenging part of parenting, especially when my middle-school lack of confidence takes over. But the thing I'm most thankful for right now is that I've got a steady husband who is constantly assuring and reassuring me that I'm a good mom. Considering he sees the good and bad of my parenting day-in-day-out and is my accomplice in raising these boys, his encouragement is invaluable to keeping me sane and semi well-balanced.) 


  1. Well said!

    Whenever anyone remarks to me, "Wow, you have your hands full!" I say, "Also my heart." It usually stops them from being so smug and makes them realize that as frazzled as I look, I enjoy being a mom.

  2. Another response to the hands-full comment is "yes, I AM blessed," along with a big smile :)

    So good that you can recognize what's going on in your "high-achiever" self--we had a hard time seeing that was what was happening in our home that was made up of THREE first-borns. We finally realized we'd better have some more children before we destroyed each other with our perfectionistic, fear-of-failure tendencies!! Along came cuddly, sweet, insecure, encouraging, empathetic, loving beings who brought a bit more balance to our home.

    A book that's helped us judge less and feel less judged is Humility by CJ Mahaney. We all could stand to be a little less sensitive/defensive and more loving....

    Great post--well worth waiting for! :)

  3. Hey Jennifer, You are one fantastic Godly Mother.You know I have 2 older girls and 2 younger ones Jesse turns 2 this week and then I have a 3 year old both BOYS.. To be honest I am terribly worried about being judged. I am in over my head and when I go out I am truly scared someone will say something.
    I am so scared that I just dont go out unless I have back up you know husband or daughters. Keep up what your doing and thanks for the encouraging words.Love sandy

  4. I am a mother of one, and would not have considered myself a sensitive person at all. That was until I had the full responsibility for another tiny helpless human being. Thanks for sharing and I'm sure your a great mother. =) From personal experience, when I make a "hands full" comment to mothers of multiple children, there is NOOOOO judgement. I say it from a place of respect (and maybe a little pity, but mostly respect). =) Please take that for what it's worth. I've never thought of it at a judge-y statement, so maybe I need to rethink how that comes across.

  5. This is so good Jen. That 7th grade feeling starts to go away eventually. I was super-sensitive to mommy-criticism (could have written your post) with Emmett. It faded a teensy bit with Preston. With Ella Grace, I actually believe I *kinda* know what I'm doing so it doesn't matter nearly as much what people think of how I do things now. Brian's been a big supporter of my mothering as well - plus, he just doesn't care about other people's opinions on parenting like I do. I'm glad you have that in Devin as well. Keep listening to him. And keep blogging. You'll be more of an encouragement to new moms than you know - just don't read the comments. ;)

  6. I know it can be challenging to not think what others are thinking but realize that others do not have all the evidence of any situation. The only judgement you should be concerned about it God's judgement and raise those little boys to follow what God commands us to do. Know that God is giving you all the necessary tools to be the GREAT mom you are. It's never easy! I remember when I had my first child and was carrying my child back to the car from the grocery store when it was sprinkling. Some lady in the parking lot said, "It's raining you should cover that babies head." At first I was so irritated but then stopped and realized that it doesn't matter. That is the opinion of that person. Our opinions are not always going be the same, especially when they haven't spent the last several days with me. Now I use the moments to set the example of a Christian and not let it bother me.

  7. GREAT advice Michele. Thank you :-)


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