Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Process That Is Confidence (Or Just Keep Swimming)

My first swim in the Monongahela River. I remember the water being cold. And the river being gigantic. But my mom, as always, was right by my side. (Please note, also, how gorgeous she still manages to look after swimming in the RIVER. Not fair).
Our charge today in the Mom Boot Camp I'm participating in is to ruminate on the concept of confidence. More particularly, how confident we are as mothers and as women. So, I thought I would also share my thoughts here.

As I get older, I grow more and more confident; I really like the person I am today. I've generally been a fairly confident person ever since I was a kid, but there have been several stages along the way when that confidence has been severely shaken (I tend to think of my life illustrated by children's books; if we're talking confidence, I think of Dr. Seuss's Oh, The Places You'll Go. Some days you're up, and others, you are among the lowest of the low ... in a very gray way).

Becoming a mother for the first time really shook my tree. When I was pregnant with my first daughter, Maggie, almost ten years ago, I had this idea of how everything was supposed to go - I was going to breastfeed exclusively, no pacifiers, be back in shape in a snap ... all of those beautiful images newly pregnant moms string together when we imagine maternity in rosy hues straight out of a Pottery Barn catalog. The first wake-up call was the process of birth itself. I just could not have comprehended how physically traumatic having a child emerge from one's body actually could be; yes, it was exhilarating, but it also stepped way over the line in terms of my definition of privacy ... and pain.

Then, to top it all off, breastfeeding a very hungry, nearly 11-pound newborn also turned out to be excruciatingly painful (no one warned me about that:(), exhausting (or that), and frustrating (or that). The breast-feeding coaches recommended by the hospital were very unhelpful and seemed, at least to my muzzled brain at the time, to blame everything on me, from the shape of my boobs, my body's "ability to handle pain," to my anxiety (I do think the way these women phrased things and manhandled by body didn't help). My hormones were completely out of whack, and that, combined with sleep-deprivation, led to me crying 24/7. I mean non-stop sobbing. My husband and mother (who was staying with us) were very worried about me. One night, about 2 am when my mom and I were sitting there staring at this beautiful little girl who was howling in hunger and frustration herself, my mom took my tear-lined face in her hands, looked me dead in the eyes, and said, "I'm making this baby a bottle. No one will judge you for it, and if they do, you don't want them in your life anyway." My mom's wisdom helped me to realize, in the dread of that moment that I was completely f*ing everything up, that there is no such thing as "The Perfect Mom." There's just you doing the best you can with the situation you find yourself in.

So, confidence. Confidence comes with learning to be comfortable in your own skin, through facing difficult situations. It also comes from learning to accept help when you need it. Some people have more wisdom than you; they can help you come out the other side, perhaps a little bruised and battered, but alive. I also have learned to try, consciously, not to compare myself to anyone else, or to judge other people because I think they're failing. You never know what's going on behind closed doors;). A/J
Also, don't forget our Eden Gray Giveaway still running at the blog until March 31. This is the print for the children's skirt we are offering up (it's so cute, I think I want one for myself!!). You can also stop back and tweet again every day for more entries. Rack 'em up!! Jess

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