Motherhood is a journey full of mom lessons learned and to be learned. As there’s no universal manual with clear instructions on how to do it “right,” everyone is bound to have ups and downs. And sometimes, we get it wrong as new moms and learn from our mistakes.
Looking back on the months following my firstborn’s arrival (and even my second’s), there are numerous things I’d do differently if I could do it all again. Being a new mom is all about trial and error, but that doesn’t mean we can’t learn from our mistakes. Here are six times I got it wrong as a new mom.
6 Lessons I Learned and Got Wrong as a New Mom
1. When I Wasn’t Flexible With My First Child’s Birth Plan
Before giving birth, I was adamant about having as “natural” an experience as possible. Both of my babies’ deliveries were far from that. Learning firsthand and from the start of my mothering journey that our plans don’t always come to fruition taught me to be flexible. It also taught me to prepare (at least mentally) for anything. This mom lesson is that birth is unpredictable and can force us to let go of control. Similarly, raising children requires us to challenge our mindsets and tweak our plans.
2. When I Put Too Much Pressure on Myself to Fit the Newborn Expectations Status Quo
As a new mom, I wanted to do as much as possible the “right” way. I stressed over everything from exact feeding times and amounts down to the minute and quarter of an ounce to “by the books” sleep schedules and routines. Realizing the unnecessary weight of my mental load allowed me to move forward and taught me an important truth: Every baby (and every mother’s journey) is unique. It’s okay to do what’s best for you and yours.
3. When I Refused to Ask for the Help I So Desperately Needed
After having my first child, I focused on honing my capabilities as my daughter’s mama, and I refused to seek the help and support that would’ve benefited my entire family. It can be easy for new moms to get caught up in motherhood and do it all alone, but I learned that having a village is necessary. Coming to terms with this lesson – and opening to the idea of hiring a babysitter or phoning a friend to come hang out with my kiddos for a few now and then – allowed me to be a better mom.
4. When I Thought I Needed to ‘Bounce Back’ in 6 Months
As unfortunate as it is, society tends to make new moms believe they must “bounce back” to who they were pre-baby. With my firstborn, I fell victim to this false narrative – and found myself obsessed with working to get back into my pre-pregnancy clothes. The second time around, I realized my changing body was (and is) incredible the way it is, extra weight, wider hips, and all. Allowing myself to appreciate the physical changes that created and sustained life let me move forward from the mentality that once plagued my postpartum healing journey. In the process, I learned to love myself for who I am now – not for who I once was (and, frankly, might never be again).
5. When I Didn’t Speak Up as Others Disrespect Boundaries
As a new mom, learning my lesson and gaining my footing as my child’s first advocate took time. This also meant allowing others to walk over the boundaries I set for my growing family. This taught me that people’s true colors do show once you have a baby. Learning to prioritize my peace (and, of course, my child’s health and wellness) allowed me to fully step into my power as a mother — and not feel bad for putting my foot down. I’m not responsible for anyone’s feelings but my own, and I have the right to do what’s best for my baby.
6. When I Let Guilt Get the Best of Me
Becoming a mom for the first time was fulfilling a dream. With that came huge pressure to always do, give, and be my absolute best. Being too hard on myself in the early days of motherhood taught me that I am my own worst critic and still the best mama for my children. Knowing that my children are happy and loved allowed me to be gentler on myself. I’m doing the best that I can and have been all along.
As a mom of two with far more experience under my belt now than what I had at the start of my motherhood journey, it’s safe to say I’ve made my share of mistakes along the way. I embrace the lessons from getting it wrong as a new mom. After all, being a new mom means a constant learning curve. Making mistakes encourages us to do things differently. I may not always get it right, but I’ll keep going and, more importantly, grow. And that alone is enough.