After having my first child, I remember staring at him in awe, regularly wondering, “when will the real grown-ups come help me handle this?” Forget that I was 27 years old, theoretically a grown-up myself. I just felt so clueless about so much, as the first of my friends to venture into the big bad world of parenting. Through the blur of sleep deprivation and the all-consuming intensity of breastfeeding, it was hard to wrap my head around the fact that I was anything more than a milk-making master of keeping a human alive. But a mother? Mothers to me were the ones who could right all wrongs, who knew all of the answers to life’s problems, who could do it all and then some. Frankly, mothers were the ones who seemed to have their sh*t together (which I most definitely did not – not even close).
The moment where motherhood hit me like a ton of bricks was when I was about six months in with my oldest. We had been struggling with breastfeeding from the start, and feeding and pumping was just not producing enough to keep him full and content. I was wrestling with the mom I thought I would be and the reality that didn’t match up. Finally, just before his half-birthday, I accepted that supplementing with formula might be what was best for both of us. I went to Target and bought a tub of formula, and settled in to feed him a bottle for the first time – up until that point, only my husband and my parents had given him a bottle.
Sitting there, feeding Colin a six ounce bottle, and watching him crush it and then look at me with a full belly and a wide grin, I realized that motherhood would never fit my expectations. I would have to loosen the reigns on my type A planning instincts and embrace the unexpected.
Feeling like a mother was not about having it all together, knowing all of the answers or about creating a Pinterest-worthy life. He didn’t care when I last washed my hair (…never a question that has a great answer, six years and two more kids later), if we made hand-print art projects for holiday gifts (um, no), or if the bathrooms were spotless (you guessed it – also a NO). I was Colin’s mother, and he didn’t care how I was feeding him or if it lived up to my expectations – he just wanted to be fed.
Rachel Friedman is a mom of three and an incredible photographer. You can find her work at www.rachelfriedmanphotography.com
“Forget Your Expectations” is part of Bump Club and Beyond’s “Like A Mother” series. These submissions detail the first time amazing moms around the world felt like mothers. Stay tuned for more “Like A Mother” blog posts in the coming weeks.