Two weeks after I started my career I found out I was pregnant with my daughter. When the initial shock and excitement of finding out I was pregnant wore off, the little nagging fear started to creep in. This kind of fear was no stranger to me–the fear of uncertainty.
Will I be the perfect mother?
For my entire life, as far back as I can recall, I have strove for perfection. Interestingly enough, I am the most enraptured by things that cannot be perfected. Being an avid equestrian since I was little, I have passionately dedicated countless hours to a sport that is completely dependent on the communication between rider and horse, each with their own abilities and limitations. In my career as a psychologist, my work revolves around building relationships with others and making sense of emotions, thoughts and behaviors. There is no such thing as the perfect ride or the perfect therapy session. Little did I realize, there’s also no such thing as the perfect mother, but that being a mother evokes a love and a passion in me that trumps all other endeavors.
Nevertheless, I had to go through my own process in the search for perfection. So I did what I always do with the little nagging fear of uncertainty–I studied it away. I read and researched everything about pregnancy and childbirth. Next, I attacked various topics in parenting. When I exhausted that, I turned to literature on how to co-raise dogs and babies–books and articles and web pages! I became an expert on it all.
When I wasn’t reading, I was hearing. Throughout my pregnancy people tried to tell me how I was going to feel or what was going to happen to my life once I became a mom. “Boy, your life is about to change.” I heard this constantly. I would smile and nod, but my ears were closed; I wasn’t listening. I had tunnel vision. I was anxious to meet my daughter.
Her due date came and went. She was not ready to come out. Never in my life had I felt more bewildered, not knowing when the time would come that I would finally get to meet my baby. Day after day, my confidence waned as I wondered when I would embark on the journey I thought I was so well prepared for. Those nine days “past due” were only just the beginning of the first lesson I learned in the real world about being a mom: parenting isn’t always predictable or perfect.
Well eventually the time came, and boy did my life change.
I will never forget the moment when we saw each other for the first time. The expression on her face was an exact depiction of how I felt at that moment. She looked up, full of inquisition and amazement. Her eyes were wide open with raised brows. She was not crying; her bravery and beauty stunned me. I was completely overwhelmed. I felt emotions so raw I could not completely comprehend, not then and honestly not now either–complete love, sheer terror and utter relief all at once. And that’s when I realized, I just gave birth to the most incredible person I had ever met.
In case you are wondering about all that research I did…nothing I read or heard from anyone else truly prepared me for becoming a mom. I honestly thought that as long as you take care of your baby, she doesn’t cry. Wrong! None of the books told me that. I also thought that babies operate on a schedule–my schedule. Wrong again! None of the articles prepared me for that. I was forced to embark on a journey that required trial and error. Guessing. Mistakes. Certainly not perfection.
During this time of complete bewilderment, there were many people in my life that offered me their words of wisdom in an attempt to help me through this transition to motherhood. It was the words of my own parents that helped me to embrace the most wonderful time in my life. My dad pointed out that “no matter what had happened in my life thus far, everything had been so perfectly right since it all had led me to my daughter.”
My daughter is my perfection; nothing else mattered.
And my mom, my template of a perfect mother, suggested that I let go and accept the great gifts of change. The transformation of my life as I once knew it; daughter, wife, teacher, rider, psychologist, dog lover, ice cream connoisseur and die-hard perfectionist; to all of those things but now, most importantly, mother. I learned to listen to my baby, watch her and meet her wherever she was, whenever she was there and give her whatever she needed. Being a mom became natural, pride washed away the uncertainty, and love filled my heart.
The birth of my daughter was truly a new beginning for me. As a new mom I have entered an entirely new dimension. I left my old life behind and started a new life with a little one who I love more than any words I write could possibly describe. She has made me a better person, given me a better life, pushed me to believe in myself and shown me a love greater than I ever knew existed.by