When I was pregnant with my son, and even long before that, I always thought I was cut out to be a mother. I thought it was something I would naturally be good at. I helped raise babies in my mother’s daycare when I was younger. I would babysit in my free time, imagining myself in that future role as I fed and cared for and bathed other moms’ little ones.
I had the makings of a mother. I was patient. I was nurturing. I knew how to rock a baby on my hip while I made a meal. I knew the framework of motherhood. I had been told I was cut out for motherhood from an early age, and I had always believed it.
Then my own babe came screaming into the world one cold winter night and everything suddenly changed. I was terrified to take him home from the hospital. I didn’t know what I was doing, not really.
And as time went on, those feelings didn’t change. I didn’t know how to soothe him or deal with the sleepless nights. I couldn’t get him on a schedule. I couldn’t get him to eat. I couldn’t find balance in my life. I didn’t know what I was doing wrong. Whenever something went right it seemed more like a miracle than a result of my mothering know-how.
I realized I was not cut out to be a mother.
The fact that motherhood did not come naturally plagued me for a long time. I felt defunct and broken for not being “good” at mothering. I constantly felt as if i was not measuring up, which is part of why I battled postpartum depression for a very long time.
I still feel like I’m not cut out to be a mother, but saying so doesn’t upset me anymore, because I don’t feel like I’m alone.
The further I dive into motherhood, the more I open myself to other mothers and hear their stories, the more I realize that none of us are cut out for motherhood.
Motherhood is often an act of survival. It is a heart-wrenching experiment of trial and error. We come at it with all the love and wisdom we have in us, and sometimes we still don’t succeed the way we’d hoped. Our triumphs are hard won. Our job leaves us weary.
We aren’t cut out for motherhood, but we adapt to it anyway. And I think that makes it all the more beautiful. It’s something we fight for. Something we work at. It’s a challenge we rise to daily, and that it something worth celebrating within ourselves.