Many of us mothers, before having our first child, do a bunch of research: we research the best products to use for our babies. We read books about parenting methods and how to raise happy, healthy children. We research topics like screen time, sugar, and sleep. In short: we care a lot. And we want to get it right.
It’s this “get it right” mentality that seasoned parents love to scoff at. You, a first-time mama, might find yourself the butt of a lot of jokes, and the recipient of more than a few eye rolls and unsolicited “just you waits.”
I’ve always been bothered by comments that poke fun at the perfectionism that many first-time-moms have. In my opinion, this kind of snobbery falls into the same category as non-teenagers looking down on teenagers (because all teenagers are impulsive, unreasonable half-humans that must be controlled by us intelligent adults—right? *Insert eye roll*). I’d like to think that, no matter where we’re at in life, we are all doing our best with what we know. There’s no reason to feel superior to someone who is in a place that we once were ourselves. But I digress.
Here’s the thing about first-time mamas: we are idealists. When we become a mother for the first time, we are shooting for the proverbial moon. We’ve done the research, and we are ready to make our vision of motherhood come to life.
Maybe it’s our ideal to avoid screen time until baby’s 2nd birthday.
Maybe it’s our ideal to thoroughly wash every pacifier that hits the floor.
Maybe it’s our ideal to keep sugar out of baby’s system until she’s older.
These ideals vary from mama to mama. But they all have something in common: we want the best for our babies. And we want to be the very best parents that we can be.
Will we hang on to every ideal that we have? No, of course not. But that doesn’t mean these goals deserve to be mocked.
Maybe a first-time mama will successfully avoid sugar as planned, but the intention to sterilize every pacifier doesn’t hold up in her day-to-day life. Or maybe a mama sterilizes every pacifier until the end of time, but when her baby is 7 months old, she decides to let him have ice cream at the family picnic. These decisions are very personal, and the original intention is usually never a bad thing. In fact, these ideals are just that: ideals.
It’s an admirable thing if you can succeed in sticking to your ideals, but it’s also not bad if you don’t. We all only have so much sanity to spare, and that often means that a handful of good intentions may fall to the wayside after the newness of motherhood fades, or we realize that our original parenting plan doesn’t fit our baby’s unique personality. It’s also possible that a new mother successfully checks every goal off her list. Just like any new pursuit in life, sometimes the vision lines up with reality, and sometimes it doesn’t—and that’s okay.
So to all the first-time moms shouldering those knowing glances and condescending remarks from older relatives or that know-it-all neighbor, ignore the noise and trust your instincts. Your plans for motherhood deserve to be celebrated, not mocked. Pursue the goals you want to pursue, and don’t apologize if you need to course-correct along the way. I hope that, as a mother of two, I never get so confident in my parenting abilities that I role my eyes at the ambitions of a new mom.