“First-time-mom” it is a term that elicits both giddy smiles and pompous eye rolls. “Motherhood is a whole new world,” a former colleague and fellow parent once told me, “it will show you a secret social circle and perspective on life that you never knew was there. Once you get that baby bump, you’re in.” She was right. What she didn’t tell me was that being a first-time-mom was a rite of passage… an initiation into the secret society that sometimes feels more like hazing than memorable life event.
Being a mom is hard — amazing, beautiful, exhausting, precious, tedious, funny, humbling, educational, agitating, life-changing — but hard. Being a first-time-mom, though… it’s overwhelming in every sense of the word. Never before have you felt such pain, love, responsibility, fear, exhaustion, change, awareness, humility, loneliness, cluelessness, or awe.
Sometimes we multi-child moms can scoff at the first-time-moms, belittling their fears, mocking their questions, snickering at their anxieties, lamenting their frequent pediatrician visits, filling them full of — solicited and unsolicited — advice. (Don’t even get me started on the, “just wait until…” habit. Let moms enjoy the stage in which they’re living. Let’s not instill fear or trepidation in our cohorts.) It is as if we entirely forget how it felt to be a first-time-mom. It’s as if we no longer acknowledge we were once full of exhaustion-drenched anxiety, questions, and hubris. Instead of rolling eyes at our new sleepless sisters, let’s help them along. Let’s open our hearts, offer our shoulders, and lend our support in ways we wish others had for us.
Parenting is something you must live to truly understand and experience to learn from… there is no way around it. So why should we expect first-time-moms to be anything but novice?
Some expectant moms have heard the moans of multi-child mothers and hope to skip the first-time-mom stage altogether. You cannot bypass first-time-motherhood. You can acknowledge, through self-awareness, when a level of anxiety may be novice, but there is no way not to be “a first-time-mom.” You are anxious because your entire life — your body, mind, perspective, relationships, routine, goals, everything! — has been upended in but a moment. You ask questions because this is all new and it is unlike anything you have ever experienced. You feel hubris because the triumphs you encounter feel momentous and you need to cling to a sense of knowledge amidst the chaos. Mostly, though, first-time-mom qualities are rooted in love. You love your offspring so much that it is simply terrifying; you have never experienced such an emotion. You will be a better mother for having lived through and allowed yourself to learn from all of this.
Motherhood is all about love. Let’s love one another. Welcome, first-time-moms!