A Crash Course in Motherhood

I remember the first time my husband left me home alone with the baby. Our son Warren was no more than a week old, and we needed something from the drugstore. I really didn’t think much of the matter until my husband had left and the door shut behind him. There I was, alone, with this little human sleeping peacefully in front of me. And with just one glace at him, I suddenly broke down into a frightened, sobbing mess

Surely hormones were partly to blame, but I remember a sense of panic coming over me as soon as my husband was gone. I started running through all of the worst-case scenarios in my mind. What if the baby won’t stop crying, and I can’t figure out what he needs?

I was good at managing my anxiety when someone else was there with me, someone who could make up for my utter lack of experience and motherly intuition. My husband was always so good at staying calm no matter how loud the baby was crying. But the moment I was finally alone with this tiny, helpless human my fear came to a head.

I was afraid of my son. I believed this for a long time, and it made me feel so guilty. But now I realize the true fear was of me failing my son. I read so many books during my pregnancy and could tell you all of the do’s and don’ts of parenting. I had done my research and knew exactly what to expect. I mean, how hard could it be?

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With my stack of reference books set neatly on my nightstand, I just knew I was ready for anything this baby could throw at us. After a week of sleep deprivation and physical exhaustion, though, my mind was a complete blur. It was impossible to recall a single thing from those books, nor did I have the energy to open them up and search for the answer. That’s when the panic set in; I realized I had absolutely no clue what I was doing, and that I would have to do it all by myself when my husband returned to work.

Of course, Warren slept peacefully the entire time I was alone that evening so when my husband returned, I couldn’t even offer a logical explanation for my breakdown. But I knew that the reality of my new role and identity had hit me in that very moment—the reality that I was responsible for this precious little life who relied on me for everything.

“I was afraid of my son. I believed this for a long time, and it made me feel so guilty. But now I realize the true fear was of me failing my son. “

Now Warren is six months old, and I’m happy to report that I no longer have a breakdown when my husband has to leave. I’ve also learned that it’s OK to not have all of the answers. There’s a huge learning curve in the beginning while you are both still getting to know each other. No textbook could’ve told me that Warren would stop crying whenever he saw the clock on the wall, or that his favorite toy would be the messy bun I now wore on my head each day.

I feel like I know my son better than anyone else (aside from my husband of course). I know his likes and dislikes, all of his little quirks, and countless ways to make him to stop crying in an instant. And that gives me confidence as a new mother. But just like in any new job, it has taken a lot of time for me to gain that confidence. So please don’t be too hard on yourself. Relax and enjoy those precious first moments with your sweet baby, even the difficult ones, because they really do go by way too fast.

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