What I’ve Learned From Motherhood: Do Your Thing

I remember the moment when I became a Mom for the first time. It was his second night at home, third night alive in this world. It was 2 a.m. and my rocking and singing weren’t lullaby-ing my baby boy to sleep. In the months prior, I laid in bed, pillows stuffed all around me, reading about sleep habits and the big danger of pacifiers and nipple confusion and four year-olds who can’t let go of binkies. But as I lay in my bed next to him, curled slightly so as not to put any pressure on my pregnant body, I listened to him whimper in the bassinet. Exhausted and overwhelmed with the enormity of caring for a brand new human (while being pregnant), I grabbed my phone and did a quick Google search “is it okay to give your baby a pacifier?” Many mom blog posts and medical professionals affirmed that many children used pacifiers, and were thriving adults. Not quite sure of my own autonomy as a mother, Google gave me the permission I needed. I rolled out of bed towards the bassinet in our dark room, gave him the binkie, and we both fell asleep.


Before I went back to work, I hustled to get my daughter sleep trained. Some of my close friends shared how they had done it, and I decided that all good working moms make sure their babies can sleep without them, so I must follow suit. I’d roll her in the swaddle, sing to her, lay her down flat in a timely fashion, then pace in the living room, Babywise and sticky notes in hand, convincing myself that I was strong enough to make this happen—strong enough to make another human want to go to sleep. I let her cry and cry, longer than I care to recall. I did that a few times a day for several days, yielding pitiful results and lots of tears for both of us. It wasn’t working. My baby cried to me and I cried to my sister, recounting nightmares of my baby girl screaming in her Pack N Play at dayhome because her mom didn’t teach her how to fall asleep. Finally, my sister, in her infinite wisdom, said that maybe this wasn’t the right time, and that maybe I should try again later. I grabbed my daughter from her crib and wrapped her in my arms. I stood in my living room, bare feet on our tile floor with the windows open, tears falling on her swaddled body as I rocked her to sleep in my arms. John Mayer’s words sang softly in the background, and I decided that being close to her, dancing to “Heart of Life,” was the best way to end my maternity leave.


This is the allegory of my life these days. I read all the books by Ezzo, Karp, and Weissbluth. I read them like a prescription, dutifully following the instructions with pretty hit-or-miss results. I text friends who give timely advice and encouragement, but still, it doesn’t look like what they described. I fall apart in tears, wondering how I’ll help my son and daughter grow to be healthy and capable. And then I realized that’s supposed to happen. I know them better than the Babywise people. So far there’s only one expert in this field, and it’s me.

One minute I’m reading everything I can get my hands on, trying to figure out how to make sure they’ll get good grades because I taught them how to fall asleep on their own, and the next minute I’m releasing all that information into thin air when I realize that I know my babies better than the books. Then I do my own thing, and we slow dance to my favorite songs and a wave of assuredness sweeps over me.

This is what motherhood has taught me: to do my thing.

I’ve lived 38 years under my own tutelage of comparisons and unattainable expectations. When something breaks down or falls apart, I assume full responsibility, even if it’s not mine to own. Now that I’m a parent to 3 beautiful children, this unhealthy mode of operation pours out onto my sweet children too. They don’t need a mom who is living by the books; they need a mom who studies them first and makes decisions with them in mind, not a prescribed sleep schedule. They need a mom who feels the freedom to keep them up late to go to a hockey game and a mom who doesn’t feel guilty when they aren’t the happiest children on the block.

Suddenly I understand that the years I spent observing and striving to be like someone else or some foreign form of myself isn’t who I want to be. And so much deeper than that, my children, with every bone in their bodies, need me to believe that I am enough for them—need me to believe that my decision is the best one for them, even if it means making mistakes here and there. They need me, wholeheartedly, in every Brene Brown manner.

I’ve fought comparison for decades. I’ve wrung my hands dry in angst over trivial mistakes, wishing I could turn back time, not to change careers or travel to a new continent, but to rephrase what I said to that person so that I didn’t sound like an aggressive snob or whatever hideous person I’ve characterized for myself.

I don’t want that for myself, and I certainly don’t want that for my children. I will read the books and get advice, but my new practice is going to be to take a deep breath and just do my thing. I will steady my footing in who I am and who I am to my children. I am exactly who they need, faults and all.

For the latest information and for more updates on everything Kindersley, download our app! Get it on Google Play
App Store coming soon!

Google Play and the Google Play logo are trademarks of Google LLC.

Related Articles

Back to top button