After Abby was born, I had a bit of an identity crisis. I was now a “mom” and that label seemed to come with much more baggage than I had ever thought it would. It kind of reminded me of one of my favourite quotes as a teenager:

“This life has been a test. If it had been an actual life, you would have received instructions on where to go, and what to do”.1

I had no idea where to go, or what to do. Everything about being a parent makes you feel like a failure. After muddling my way (with much help from Charles) through the first few weeks, I figured out (although not quite quickly enough) not to read any more parenting books, or at least to take the ones I did read with a grain of salt, because every book tells you that you are doing it wrong. It doesn’t matter what “it” is (sleeping, feeding, dressing) you are definitely doing it wrong. And other people, well-meaning as they might be, generally do not make it easier by offering unsolicted advice. In the light of the day, I could stand by my/our decisions, but in the middle of the night, it was much, much easier to second-guess what I was doing. After all, I was just guessing for the most part. Guessing what she wanted. Guessing what she needed. ‘Cuz babies don’t have instructions.

On top of the stress of ruining our baby’s life by doing something as monsterous as feeding her when she was hungry (i.e. on demand), there was the fact that none of my clothes fit. Maternity clothes were too big. My regular clothes were too small. I could count on one finger the number of pants that fit. Another two fingers covered the number of skirts I could wear. I wanted to be a good homemaker (dinner on the table, laundry clean, house generally tidy) and a good wife (not looking as if I rotated through the same outfit every three days) but I wasn’t feeling good about myself as a person.

“Judge me all you want, just keep the verdict to yourself”.2

The problem arises when you are the one judging yourself. Internalizing all of those judgements just magnifies them. And in the two things that mattered most to me, my baby and my marriage, I judged myself as failing.

The good news is, I finally gave myself a reprieve. Crisis averted. The bad news is that, while all my pants and skirts fit now, my shirts still don’t fit. Darn breastfeeding boobs.

1 Courtesy of the epitome of teen angst, miss Angela Chase.

2 Courtesty of a cigarette ad, although I try to ignore that fact.