When are you due? Do you do prenatal yoga? Where do you get your maternity clothes? What type of birth are you going to have? Is the baby a boy or girl? How old is she? Does she walk yet? Is she potty trained? What school is she going to go to? Do you have a double stroller? Does she nurse exclusively? Does your 18 month old have a forward facing carseat? Do you have a job? Do your kids go to daycare? How much screen time do your kids have per week? How are you going to manage the work-life balance with 3 kids? And the questions go on…
When you’re pregnant for the first time, and even when you’re pregnant for the third or fourth time, there are so many reasons to feel insecure, inadequate, unconfident, like you’re doing everything wrong. And it doesn’t stop at pregnancy. We live our lives comparing ourselves to others, others who’ve gone before us and paved the way. Others who offer their advice – solicited or not – on every topic under the sun. Others who have set the “standards” of pregnancy, labor, delivery, motherhood, postpartum life, etc. We read books that tell us how to do all the things, what steps to take to ensure certain results in our lives. We research and read and ask, all to try to make informed decisions for our children and our lives. And then we talk to someone who asks our position, and then promptly proceeds to tell us why we’re wrong. For our birth plan, for diapering, for feeding, for sleep training (or not), for vaccinating (or not), for clothing, for school. For literally every topic relating to children and mothering and life.
And life as a mom rarely goes the way the people or the books have laid out. Plans fail, last resorts are relied upon, and we feel like utter and complete failures. We lock ourselves in our homes and log onto Pinterest, an escape that makes us feel even less adequate and and less productive and less confident. It’s a vicious cycle.
I remind myself of this almost every day: as a mom I have to cultivate and practice confidence with dignity. Sticking to my guns with gumption and grace. Realizing I’m not 100% in control (and being OK with that). For accepting criticism without being offended. For relying on another Strength. For trying to give people the benefit of the doubt, and for trying to see where they’re coming from. For assuming they have the best of intentions. For being confident with the informed decisions we’ve made.
A few things that have helped me build my confidence as a mother (but believe me, I struggle in this area every day): 1. experience, 2. not over-researching, 3. steering away from conversations with certain people, and 4. surrounding myself with people – or just one or two people – who affirm me.
1. Although there are new challenges and struggles each day, the longer I’m a mother, the more confident I feel in that role. At least at this point in my life; we’ll see how I feel after baby 3 arrives, and once I have teenagers. We do things our way, and have for over 4 years; reminding myself of this helps to boost my confidence in a way that few others things can. We’ve kept our children alive, we’ve defeated breastfeeding, our toddlers sleep through the night. Yes, we’ve got this! But you better believe I still frantically text my midwife about pregnancy (and non-pregnancy) issues all the time.
2. As a parent, research is great! However, there comes a point where you can research too much and doubt everything out there. Be responsible and make informed decisions, but don’t research to the point where you’re paralyzed and cannot feel confident about anything you’ve decided (or can’t even make a decision). Take a step back and evaluate and maybe ask the opinion of someone you trust.
3. Since being pregnant for the first time I’ve realized there are a handful of people in my life (and probably in everyone’s life) who like to voice their opinions and make you feel like your opinions are wrong (hello, all of Facebook). For the most part, I steer away from conversations about children – and all things related – with these folks. I know that enduring a conversation will upset me and result in insecurity (or even anger), so I try to just “direct” the conversation with the folks as much as possible. OR when the conversation heads in a direction that I know will result in outspoken opinions, I just brace myself, prepare to grin and bear it, and then call my mom when I’m done with that conversation to detox.
4. I mentioned my mom and my midwife as people I go to for advice or to recover from a particularly damaging conversation or if I’m struggling with doubt and confidence. Surround yourself with people who will pray with you and for you. Who will remind you that YOU’RE your child’s mother, that you know a heck of a lot. That you can do this. That this trial will go away. These people are so essential to any feelings of confidence that I might ever have.
How’ve you built your confidence as a mother? Were you nervous as a first time (or second time or third time) mom? Honestly, I’m terrified this time around when I think of labor and delivery. I feel like I won’t be able to bear it, like it will result in a c-section (like my first did), and I feel very unconfident. I’m dreading and fearing postpartum life. I’m nervous about being a mom of three. I fee like we have such a great system down with 2, and 3 is just going to be so chaotic. But I have to remind myself that motherhood isn’t perfect. It’s messy, it’s beautiful, it’s real life. And it’s about feeling confident some of the time, and relying on Christ for our confidence and security! Praying a lot, having faith, and exercising patience!
Don’t miss the rest of this Real Talk Real Moms FINDING CONFIDENCE discussion:
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