ago, I met a first-time mom who had a few-week-old infant and really deep
postpartum depression. She was really struggling and felt totally alone. Our
conversation, one I’ve had with lots of other moms in one form or another, went
something like this:
Me: “You should try to go to a postnatal yoga class and meet other moms with babies of the same age.”
Other Mom: “But I’m so intimidated by all those perfect yoga moms.”
Me: “But if you go to class, then you’re one of those perfect yoga moms.”
Other Mom: “But I won’t feel perfect.”
Me: “What makes you think they do?”
There is so much insecurity, doubt and just general lack of confidence involved in being a new mom. Other moms always seem to be doing better than we are. More pulled-together, more easy-going, more on top of things with babies who sleep better, nurse better, cry less.
Everyone has their own version of a group of moms who are “perfect.” For that mom, it was Yoga Moms.
Breaking News: I happen to have it on good authority that yoga moms aren’t actually perfect and happy all the time with babies who are perfect and happy all the time.
How do I know? When my daughter was eight-weeks old, I started taking a yoga class for new moms where the babies hung out on the floor while we tried out down dog in our new mom bodies. The instructor encouraged us to have lunch together after class, which we did—nearly every week for months. Almost five years later, nine of us are still friends. We have moms nights out, playdates with the kids, family gatherings, our kids take classes together and we support each other when we need it.
When I met these women, I didn’t even think we had anything in common—we come from different backgrounds, different education levels, different ages, races, incomes. Some of us went back to work quickly, others are still at-home moms. Most of us nursed, some bottle-fed. Some cried-it-out, others co-slept. From what we hear about the Mommy Wars raging everywhere, you'd think we would have been at each other's throats or at least slinging passive-aggressive arrows at each other's heartfelt parenting choices.
Maybe we just got really lucky, but we did have two things in common—we all told the truth and we laughed a lot. We talked about all the hard stuff, and (Imagine this!) it turned out that we were all going through the same struggles. It was such a relief to know that we weren’t going crazy, screwing up, failing our kids. We weren’t the only one who didn’t fit back into our pre-pregnancy clothes, whose boobs leaked in public, who hid in the bathroom and cried.
Recently, another mom was talking about a group of moms she met when her first kid was born. She called them “Bethesda moms” and thought they all seemed so perfect—perfect hair and they always looked cute with cute babies in cute outfits. She looked at them and felt alone, not pulled together and happy and perfect, and she never bonded with them. So, I asked her, “Did you ever tell any of them how you were feeling?” Well, no, she hadn’t. She was sure they weren’t feeling how she was feeling and she tried to hide it. “How do you know they weren’t feeling the same way and wishing they had someone to talk to, too?”
Sometimes “fake it til you make it” will help you as a parent. You can’t fall apart all the time and no one wants to be around someone who’s always negative. But I think our generation of moms wants to talk about what being a mom is really like. We owe it to other moms and to ourselves to tell each other the truth.
It’s the only way we’ll find out that we’re not alone.