The transition into motherhood is a gradual process with physical, psychological, social and relational changes. Looking to movies and television, we might expect the change to occur immediately once there is a positive pregnancy test or the baby is born. However, because this role requires such a transformation, our confidence can often be affected.
Vulnerability with New Roles
When we are new to a role, it’s very common that we feel some vulnerabilities. Experiencing a shift in responsibilities, daily schedules, change in priorities, etc. It all requires us to extend ourselves in new skills and abilities; we may feel unsure at times if we know what we are doing or if we will be able to rise to the role. We may pull in towards ourselves to retreat in vulnerability, reducing the exposure that others might see our struggles.
Distancing ourselves from others to hide our flaws is a natural reaction to self-protect, but in actuality, it makes things harder for us. We miss opportunities to be encouraged, to not feel alone and to hear from other’s experiences. Coming into motherhood and each new phase that comes in the journey, is when we need others more than ever.
New Experiences Alone
I remember as a new mom feeling so nervous to leave my house for the first time alone to run an errand with my new baby. Was I capable of taking this small child out into the world on my own? Would I be able to multitask protecting him while also thinking of the shopping list of items needed? The logistics of it all left me feeling so incapable; how could I carry the baby around and still have room for groceries to fit in the cart? Then the judgment set in; other moms do this all the time, so why does this feel so big to me?
As I walked the aisle of the grocery store, I wondered if the “real grownups” were thinking I must not know what I’m doing. Checking out at the cashier, I struggled to lift what felt like a 30-pound car seat out of the cart, so I could load the bags into my cart to carry to the car. Then I had to muster all my strength to carry this carrier on one hip, while steering the cart with the other hand to the parking lot. On the outside, you might not have noticed anything, but on the inside, I was about to burst into tears over a grocery shopping experience. Why did it feel so hard? How do other parents do this? Why can’t I handle this?
Insecurities and Encouragement
At the time I was isolated, being a young, stay-at-home mom, I didn’t know I wasn’t alone in this experience. It’s actually a very common experience for new moms to feel unsure and nervous about going out to run errands alone with the baby. The power of connection is applicable in many life stages, especially with new roles like becoming a mother. Encouragement and words of affirmations to others can be so uplifting and can make a difference in someone’s feelings of being capable or not.
If it was possible to go back in time and be an onlooker to this experience, I would have loved to have said to this younger version of me, “You’re doing hard work! These are big changes to your daily routine; you’ve never done this before, and you’re figuring it out. Things will get easier; it just takes some practice.” Then, I would have offered to help push the cart and probably even a hug. What a difference it would have made to have experienced kindness from a stranger during a vulnerable time like that.
The next time you’re out in public, and you see a new parent juggling a task where they might be struggling or frustrated, I’d encourage you to remember how much a difference you can make with a simple gesture. We could all use some words of encouragement at times or someone to offer some help with a task. It can be hard to give ourselves grace at times; it makes it seem easier when others can be the voice of compassion when we are unable to give it to ourselves.