Here’s a fact I’m beginning to believe is fairly axiomatic: Mothers are crazy people.
Most of us have probably felt that way about our own mothers once (or twice… or a hundred times…) in a while, and if you’re a mother yourself, I suspect you know deep down there’s a little bit of crazy camping out inside you.
The thing is, this mother-brand of crazy comes in 3 different forms.
The good form of crazy looks something like this: You’d do anything to protect your child, even if you come across to others as mentally unbalanced. Or, you snoopy dance down the grocery store aisle while cackling like a mad woman, just to put a smile on your baby’s face. Or, you got off the elevator at the wrong floor, put salt in your coffee, then discovered your underwear is on inside out all because you stayed up all night with your sniffling/teething/constantly-feeding child. All good crazy.
But then there’s the crazy that makes us believe that what’s good for our own child is good for everyone else’s. It’s the crazy of the all-too-cocky, self-professed BTDT (“been there done that”) mothers. Without necessarily meaning to, they’re the mothers who make you feel like you’re doing everything incorrectly every time you Google something pregnancy or baby or parenting related.
I can’t count how many times other mothers laughed in my face or cocked a skeptical eyebrow when I told them I didn’t plan on an having an epidural, didn’t care to buy a pack-n-play or diaper genie or boppy pillow, didn’t find if it was a boy or a girl beforehand, and was planning on working up until the day I went into labor.
After Nicholas was born, I found it so disheartening how many parenting forum sites seemed to exist purely as a platform for debate over who’s wrong and who’s right. When my son lost more than a pound in 5 days during the first week because my milk never came in, Google searches for “switching to formula” brought up results from angry, self-righteous people yelling about the evils of formula and that your milk always came in and was always enough, and that any woman who “ignored” these facts was a bad mother. The same negative forum discussions exist for every issue you could ever think to innocently Google.
When you’re hormonal enough already, “advice” like this is simply devastating.
It’s so easy to get buried in what everyone else is doing or telling you that the overwhelm can lead you into becoming the 3rd category of crazy: the nail-biting, anxiety-ridden, paranoid mother who can’t relax and enjoy her baby because she’s too busy doubting and distrusting herself and everything she does.
Just two days after Nicholas was born, Sarah from Sratejoy’s Season 6 wrote this post about listening to your instincts and mothering with confidence. I’ve found it’s a concept of which I have to remind myself frequently.
Because, ultimately, I’d so much rather be the good kind of crazy, giggling and dancing madly, than the self-doubting or the self-righteous kinds of crazy. I realize now that so much of the questioning and fear I experienced during my pregnancy stemmed directly from listening to the wrong people, worrying about the wrong things, and letting the people who laughed in my face or raised their eyebrows get under my skin.
And really, I think that’s probably the case for most of life’s transitions. The world is full of people telling you how things are supposed to be, and when you feel like your life is going down a different road, it’s a little scary to look those people in the eyes and laugh right back.
But I’m learning that if you want to keep your sanity, laugh you must. Laugh, dance, and then start trusting your instincts.