What's Up With Motherhood?

Here are some healthful tid bits for women to savor as they embark on motherhood. Trust yourself. Rely on others. Ask for help. Seek support. Connect with loved ones. Take time for yourself. Expect to feel amazing, awful, and everything in between. Throw perfection out the window!

This is from an interview called What’s Up With Motherhood, at thenewperfect.com, with Dr. Jessica Zucker, a psychotherapist who specializes in women’s health issues.   

Such important points in an article that talks about the way moms waste energy trying to be as “perfect” as the other mothers.

But what I like most in this quote is:   look at all these things that seem like contrasts:  ”trust yourself” sounds so independent, but it’s right next to “rely on others” and “ask for help.”  That’s because when you’re a mother, you’ve got to be both independent and dependent. Those things don’t cancel each other out — each one is an ingredient in the other.  

It’s one thing to hear “trust yourself” and “rely on others”, but it’s another thing to do it.  So many new moms think “trust yourself” is great advice for people who know what they’re doing, but worry that it doesn’t apply to them.  If you’re a new mom who has no experience and few role models and is bombarded by “expert advice” telling you to do a dozen mutually exclusive things, you can start worrying that your common sense isn’t enough.  Or, perhaps, you’re just too tired to hear what common sense tells you.

And similarly, it can be hard to rely on others and ask for help, even when we “know” it’s good advice.  On the one hand, I think we all understand that the point of having 9 billion people on one planet is that there are going to be some good ones to share your life with.  But on the other hand, I think we all, sometimes, worry that needing people is a sign of weakness, something you shouldn’t admit. I do it, too, as I’ve blogged about.

So but here’s the thing.  You know what helps you trust yourself?  Relying on others.  And you know what helps you rely on others?  Trusting yourself.  

Here’s why:  When you can trust that feeling lonely or empty or confused isn’t a sign that You’re A Shitty Mom, you can open your life to other people and begin to rely on them.  And when you’re around other mothers and you become friends and your lives start to intertwine (I mean having real relationships, not just casual encounters where everyone pretends their lives are perfect) you start to see that what real mothers do, in real life, is not a perfect arrangement of beautiful Kodak moments, but a big soupy mess of decisions that are sometimes very planful and other times haphazard, where their personality, their common sense, their aesthetic sense and their quirks are the tools they rely on.  When you see other women doing this you realize — “trust yourself”  doesn’t mean “have perfect judgment about everything”; it means, “you’re going to be OK; stop agonizing so much.”

No one knows what she’s doing all the time and everyone breaks a sweat raising kids.  That’s because it’s hard.  But community helps, perhaps more than anything, at reminding us that the goal isn’t to be perfect.  I think the goal is to have tools to handle the stuff that’s just not fun, and to be able to enjoy the stuff that really, really is.