This week I have had the pleasure of being with a lot of first time mothers (or first time mothers of twins!) and it has brought something to the surface that I feel like I have somehow forgotten. I thought I would share it with all of you (or the few of you, whatever the case may be). Mothers desperately want to be great at mothering. We want to feel confident in our skills, assured of our baby's adoration of us, and competent to meet all their needs. (Because we seriously rock at work, and expect to excel at all the home skills too.)
There's just one problem. Most of us have NEVER done anything even resembling motherhood before. And NONE of our skills from work seem to transfer over to our new role. We have to learn a whole new set of skills in order to get through our day without constantly battling a screaming, miserable baby.
So there we are, so totally in love with our baby (or babies) and yet somehow feeling incapable of 'mastering' the needed new skills and tasks that babies require 24 hours a day.
I tell you this not to discourage you, but rather to give encouragement for one simple thing.
If there is one thing you can do (other than HELP a new mother practically), offer her some praise. It can be so simple, but it has to be sincere (we can smell insincerity like babies can smell breasts coming down the hallway).
A smile, nod, thumbs up, or better yet, some words of acknowledgment that you noticed her doing something great will really make a difference. Because, psst...BABIES DON'T GIVE MUCH BACK AT FIRST.
They never say "Great diaper change mom," or "That was the best breastfeeding I have had all week". Nope, they sometimes don't even smile for weeks--the same weeks you have been up most of the night rocking, bouncing, swaddling and feeding them.
Don't get me wrong, you know I love babies. But the first bits are usually hard when you are doing something new. You all know this. It takes time to do anything new and big. (Have you moved recently? Added a pet to your life? Gotten a new job? Then you have a sense of what I'm talking about.)
So for everyone who is not right in the midst of acclimating to a new baby, I offer you a nudge to get talking. Tell that mama how well she handled her Hooter Hider (yes, a real thing), how natural she seems while feeding her baby, or how lucky her baby must be to have her as the mama. Because deep down we are all afraid that we may have made an irreversible mistake by having this child, and we need to know that this baby indeed came to live at the right house after all.
And when you are a new mama, deep down is right on the surface much of the time.
We don't have job reviews while on maternity leave, so we need a little bit here and there to reassure us that we are on the right track.
So could you find something that we are doing right and let us know about it? Please? You might be the only kind word we hear all day.