Little M just turned 10 months, and as her 1st birthday approaches, I’ve been reflecting a lot on the past several months and my introduction to motherhood. Things are much easier now. That anxiety around doing things “right,” not irrevocably screwing up this tiny creature in my charge — stressing over her sleep and how much she’s eating, over which cup to get her that will promote development and not give her speech issues or expose her to dreaded mold — all these fears seem a distant memory. I finally feel like I know what I’m doing, like I’ve got this motherhood thing down. I know full well that this feeling is temporary; that as we barrel towards toddlerhood, we’ll be met with a whole new set of anxieties and uncertainties. But for now, I’m enjoying this calm and confidence. I am so in love with this creature and with being a mom, and can honestly say that this past 10 months have been among the most fun and fulfilling times of my life.
I know that my experience isn’t shared by all moms. And certainly the cultural narrative of what motherhood looks like in the first year does not support my cause. We are bombarded with images of harried new moms, living in yoga pants and a messy bun, covered in spit up, with a screaming baby in one hand, and a rapidly cooling cup of coffee in the other. It can be so easy to succumb to this vision of motherhood, and resign oneself to the notion that this is just what life will be life for a year (or more).
The converse seems to be completely unattainable. The Instagram visions of skinny moms with perfect hair and makeup, dressed to the nines, with a perfect baby and spotless house, who somehow find time in their day to whip up professional-looking gluten-free, vegan cupcakes and three course dinners, while simultaneously sewing Etsy-worthy patterned onesies with matching hats. It’s enough to make you feel like a failure before you even get out of bed in the morning.