Tina Parker

More probing questions from the mom trenches

Date of Post: 
Tuesday, April 5, 2016

When I was new to mamahood, I was wide-eyed, scared, desperate. I was eager for affirmation; eager to be the best, as though being a mama was something I must aspire toward with a set of check boxes I needed to get just right. I felt so much pressure in this trap I'd fallen into--our culture's trap to be perfect, to give our kids the absolute best, to avoid screwing up and thereby emotionally scarring our children FOREVER. I don't use the CAPS lightly--I truly felt as though one little slip-up could set our children on a path to a very dismal future.

I tried to do all the "right" things. I breastfed. I even took on the notion that all women "should" do this. "How's the breastfeeding going?" a commonplace question as "How's the weather today?" It assumes that's what every mother is doing--it is heavy on judgment. I even asked a neighbor that question one time without thinking a thing of it. She became visibly upset and began to explain how breastfeeding wasn't working out for her. I immediately felt horrible. Why had I asked such a personal, loaded question without thinking a thing of it? Had I forgotten already how similar personal, judgmental questions had left me reeling in self-doubt?

I did forget myself a lot as a new mom. I spent a good deal of time alone with a whirlwind of doubts and conflicting thoughts. Never before and never since have I been so close to crossing the line of the sane. I needed a big sister type to shake me by the shoulders and say, "Hey. You got this." As I aged into mamahood. I eventually did this for myself. I used all that alone time (or at least kid-only time) to think about the kind of woman I wanted my girls to see me as. I thought more about how our family was a new thing, uniquely ours. I could never "be" a certain type of mom; we could never "become" a certain type of family. We can only put one foot in front of the other and make it up as we go along.