Today’s guest post comes from Brandy Walker, the founder of The Bomb Shelter — a smart and entertaining online magazine. Today she’s confessing that early motherhood doesn’t always come as easily for some, and that you’ll eventually find your groove:
My sister-in-law gave me books. She felt sorry for me. I felt sorry for me. The books didn’t help. They were all about the joy of bringing new life into the world and what to expect when you’re expecting. But what the heck do you expect when you’re completely unprepared to have a baby?
I needed to quit smoking, but I couldn’t. If I had known the guilt I’d have to carry around for the next ten years every time my daughter’s asthma flared up, it may have been easier. I looked for the book I needed. The one to show me how to become an adult and take care of an infant and navigate postpartum depression. I couldn’t find that book.
So, I vowed to write it. As soon as I could stand on my own two feet, I’d help other young parents do the same. This is the beginning of me making good on my word. If you’re a young mom or mom-to-be struggling, I’d like to share a little bit of hope.
“Safe? Who said anything about safe? Of course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the king, I tell you.” - C.S. Lewis in The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe
My best friend and I got pregnant within four months of each other when we were both 19. She was so ready. She and her boyfriend rushed to the altar. Now, 11 years later, she’s a happy, somewhat-sane homeschooling mom of five! She tells people they did everything “the wrong way” but got it all right.
I was not ready.
At her wedding, her mom cornered me to ask when I was getting married. I didn’t know how to tell her that was not a part of the plan. I ended up spending three painful years with my daughter’s father. I am beyond thankful I didn’t marry that man.
It took me a couple of years to find my groove as a mother. It was easier for my friend to let go of her selfish tendencies and that me feel incredibly unfit. But years later, pregnant with my second child, I sat in my midwife’s office lamenting my past maternal sins. She looked at me, and firmly but gently whispered, “Brandy, it’s okay. When we know better, we do better.”
Babies aren’t safe. Those little princes and princesses are tyrants disguised in innocence. They cry and they poop and when they finally do fall into a peaceful sleep, they haunt you with urges to check their breathing every 15 minutes until, or course, they hear the door squeak open and wake up again. Between fevers and sleepless nights and swollen ankles, they’re anything but safe. But they’re good. If love at first sight exists, it is between a mother and her child.
The real problem of parenthood is the other parents. People come out to the woodwork to touch your belly or give unsolicited advice. This is a remarkably worse phenomenon when you’re young. At seven months pregnant with my daughter, I walked out of a bathroom stall at a Red Lobster to a woman staring at my bulging belly in disbelief.
“You are far too young to be pregnant!” She exclaimed.
You are far too old to have missed the lesson on thinking before you speak, I thought as I smiled meekly and hurried to wash my hands and leave. There will be bathroom judges through all walks of parenthood. In Daring Greatly, Brené Brown calls it “parent shaming” and urges us to practice “wholehearted parenting”. As moms and dads, we weigh the issues and decide what is best for our families. It is a great kindness to honor others’ choices (or mistakes) as much as our own.
You are stronger than you know. Potent potential to follow your life’s missions is brimming from your soul. One of those missions is now what we call parenthood in all its messy majesty. Take heart, you’re going to rock it out.
Read more from Brandy at The Bomb Shelter and Brandy Glows.
Main print: Etsy.com/Nan Lawson, $16
Other photos: Brandy Walker