It’s one thing to know something when it comes to other people, but when it’s you concerned, this knowing can get blurred.
With my vague maternal instinct and minimal experience with babies, before I became a mom I wondered how would I know what to do? How would I keep a little foreign creature surviving and hopefully eventually thriving? To other people with similar fears, I could confidently say to them that they know what to do, they just have to trust themselves, ask for help when necessary and recognise that there are no hard and fast rules. That each parent is right for each baby and that what works for one may not work for another. That the child is looking for your individuality, your unique touch. That a baby needs its basic needs met and is not interested in whether your technique is perfect. That the Jones’s are not in fact getting it more right. I read the book “Child of Mine” and was in love with the honesty and poignancy with which writers describe the first year of parenting. With the varying colours of each description.
And yet, I find myself a new mom, plagued by the same insecurities and doubts, pouring over ‘what to expect in the first year’ and unable to internalize the wisdom I can so easily offer others. As I stumble blindfolded in the dark, I come across other moms who seem to have it all together – emotionally, physically, practically – and I clutch onto them fervently for answers, solutions, reassurance. I find myself spinning as I ponder the traditional questions: whether to vaccinate or wait, whether to impose a schedule on the child, let the baby lead the way or find a happy medium.
I look uncertainly at this new me in the mirror: milk-stained mamma; fun but slightly neurotic. And I decide to give her a hug. For I’m trying so hard that it matters not so much if I have it all worked out, if I make the right decision, how I’ll cope with the inevitable endless million- and-one challenges on the horizon or how I’m doing in comparison to the next. What matters are the smiles on my girl’s face now as I sing her wacky theme song “The Noa Tzipporah song” and suggest a nappy change, her favourite activity. Or, the earnest way in which she listens to all my jabbering and the effort she puts into squealing back on cue. The calm that descends on her when she hears Alica Keys’ “Lesson Learned” (she has great taste in music). It’s about appreciating the blessing of hanging out with my daughter, who is in many ways like a new best friend that happens to be slightly dramatic and gassy at times but is truly delightful. Someone who helps me look at the world again as I see it through her eyes of awe.
And so I decide to free myself. From a life sentence of trying to be the perfect mom. I’m not perfect, nowhere near. I’ll never be the mom who is always organised, prepared and ahead of the game. But I hope to be a mom who isn’t missing out on the experience and on life by trying to be something and someone else. For every mother-child relationship has its own beat, its own tune. Sure I aim to create calm, boundaries and order but when we have crumbs on the carpets and a little dirt in our nails, I hope to shrug. And breathe in the wow of the moments we share, laugh and sing in our own special way.