Updated: Jun 30, 2021
Bringing a new life into this world is a complicated and messy process. It re-shapes us physically, mentally, and spiritually, shattering the self-identity we had spent our entire life cultivating. We must learn to be vulnerable and accept the fact that we are no longer in control. Study and preparation will not guarantee a perfect score because the reality is that perfection does not exist and trying to attain it will only lead to disappointment in ourselves.
The transition for me to becoming a mom was not an easy one. I was extremely self-critical and compared myself and my family to others who made it seem so easy. I felt like a failure if I had to ask for help. I felt guilty and inadequate and at times wondered if this all meant I should not be a mom. How could I have succeeded at so much in life yet not effortlessly excelled at something that was supposed to be natural? While becoming a mom is a very common experience and part of life for many of us, it is extremely difficult to become a completely new person overnight and for me it took years of struggle with anxiety, depression, reaching out to friends and other moms I met have met along the way, a new job, a new therapist, and medication to get to where I am now.
Society should treat this transition with reverence and not as commonplace. Those of us who take on the daunting role of being a mom are real-life superheroes and deserve the recognition- we develop the ability to move between multiple parts of our self-identity from minute to minute, and in special rare moments when all parts of our identity are present at the same time, we get to feel a sense of calm and cohesion. I am a mom, wife, daughter, friend, colleague, doctor, advocate, and New Yorker. The best thing I have done is to stop turning to social media and the world around me for how it should all look. I now choose to act based on my values instead of for validation. Yes, we will all be judged. Don’t let it determine your self worth or be your barometer for whether you are passing or failing. No matter how you make it work you are inspiring and should treat yourself with grace and compassion while you are figuring out your own path.
For all of you who are in the midst of this messy process, know that you will get to your happy place. The first step is to acknowledge that perfection doesn’t exist and you are not a failure if you don’t have a natural delivery, breastfeeding isn’t for you, your baby cries for no good reason for hours every evening, or you let your toddler watch television and wear pajamas to school (all examples taken from my own experience- I am sure there are many more to come) Mom is now part of my identity, but not my whole identity. I had to learn how to be vulnerable and brave. It is not weak to need help. This is why humans live in communities. We need to bare witness to each other’s stories and provide support and empathy.
Please share your stories as well, and when you see the moms in your life take the time to ask them how they are really doing and feeling. Let them know you see them and hear them and make space for them to tell you.