I'm only human, I make mistakes. I am also a new mom so I make a lot of them. While on maternity leave with my first child I've been fortunate enough to get involved with "The New Mom Project" and most likely by default, start writing a blog for them. I am not a computer person, social media and I are acquaintances at best, hence the intro about mistakes. If you are reading this expect that I will make them here and please be forgiving as I learn.
The last statement could double as the silent prayer I wish for my daughter each night as I put her down, a mother's quiet apology for all of the missteps, bad timing and "should've known better" moments throughout our day together. I can only hope that she knows how full my heart is with love for her, how desperately I want to figure it all out so that the next day will be better. She won't know how late I stay up to read the books I felt I should've finished when I was pregnant or to survey the blogs & websites I wish I had more time to digest. When she was just over a month and wasn't sleeping unless it was on me, in my frantic and type A state I consulted many friends and women I knew who were also mothers and usually to more than my seemingly self indulgent singleton. Everyone had a book or a system that they swore by, as the advice poured in so did the opinions. If I co-slept the child would never leave my bed until they were 9, a nap schedule was key and at 2months I was lagging behind by not already having one implemented. Even when my friends were supportive, the books they brought or recommended only heightened my anxiety and served as a constant reminder of everything I was failing to do.
Almost at my wits end (okay I was already past it), one friend graciously showed up not only with her own 1 year old son and husband in tow but bearing food and the sleep books I thought I so desperately needed. They are great parents and my friend is a great mom, I figured in order to be somewhat close to what she was I should pore over whatever she read, or else suffer the consequences. I figured she too might be horrified that I hadn't already combed through these books and it took everything I had to remain vulnerable & honest about needing the help.
On their way out she casually mentioned in passing "remember, you are all she needs". That one sentence was able to release me (not entirely, but most days) from the "shoulds" and the self inflicted unattainable standards I and most moms are guilty of inflicting on ourselves. That night as my daughter slept on me, things felt different, felt lighter. I enjoyed how peaceful and serene she was and was grateful for the close bond I felt with her.
My daughter is now 4 months and although she still cries, it seems to be less or maybe it's just because I am a more experienced caregiver. During the meltdowns, I run through the checklist, hungry, wet, tired, cold/hot, bored, a tag poking her? Nope. So I just hold her, tight enough that she knows I'm there, until she's able to calm herself down. Taking my friend's advice I figure the best I can do is watch out for the obvious threats and be there for her. To be enough of a presence that she knows she is surrounded by love & security. You know what? Of all of the baby sleep/behaviour/general interest books both read and unopened that line my shelves, her advice has been the most sound and it works. All you need is love.