It’s hard to believe that in 2011, new moms still buy into the fantasies of motherhood. It’s not their fault. Often it’s women passing these on to other women, which is even more perplexing, and this unfortunately keeps the cycle going (often labeled “the conspiracy” by my clients).
Here are the top five myths that we’d be much healthier shedding:
1. When the baby first comes, it should be the happiest time in my life. The truth is, when the baby first comes into your life, it’s boot camp! This can feel like the toughest time with all the adjustments – physical and emotional – as your life turns upside down. Hopefully there’s lots of joy mixed in as well, but to expect yourself to be elated all the time is not realistic. New moms often feel guilty when they’re not happy and then they begin to doubt themselves and whether they made the right decision to have a baby. Be reassured that this is to be expected. Most of the happy times usually come later, after the initial healing and settling in occurs.
2. My needs shouldn’t matter anymore. It’s all about the baby now. Think again! If Mommy’s not okay, the family’s not okay. It’s your number one duty to take care of yourself so you’ll have what it takes to be there for your family. In order to be the mom you want to be, you must put yourself on the list daily. Sacrificing yourself will eventually backfire when you burn out, become resentful of your husband and start snapping at your child(ren). Concentrate on your night sleep, nutrition, and some time completely off duty during the week so you can recharge your batteries. Your family will thank you – it’s a favor to them when you take care of yourself and a detriment to them when you don’t.
3. Mothering is instinctual. If this were true, there wouldn’t be so many parenting books! Each mom is searching for answers. On top of that, each child within the same family might need a different style. Parenting is learned and feels to the best of mothers as one gigantic guessing game. So, if you cannot tell what your newborn’s cries mean, that doesn't mean you’re incompetent. You’ll learn in good time.
4. I shouldn’t need help. Emotional, physical and social support is always important no matter what’s going on in our lives. And when a baby first enters the home, it’s essential. Our society is one that loves self-reliance and teaches that asking for assistance is a weakness and implies inadequacy. Drop this way of thinking as fast as you can. Ask for help, receive it when it’s offered, and know it’s a sign of health on your part when you do.