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How not to run the motherhood marathon

WEB3-Crocheted baby booties

Ruth Jenkinson | Getty Images

Natalia Białobrzeska - published on 03/14/17

Ready? Set? Go! New moms, open your heart and slow down!
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When you see the two lines indicating yes! pregnant! on your home pregnancy test, you automatically land at the starting line. No one asks if you want to, if you know how, or if you have the strength to participate in the run. You look around, and all you see are a little stressed, though excited, first-time moms. You look further ahead and see that a lot of moms are already running. One mom is jogging by, wearing a super chic baby sling. Another one is rushing by, holding the baby in a car seat carrier. The third one is holding a spoon full of baby food, the fourth an organic carrot and amaranth.  There is a mom showing her 6-month-old baby flashcards to teach him how to read, and another one who is making an evening date for a drink with a friend. There is a mom wearing an apron washing endless bottles, and a mom carrying a laptop. There is a mom with a ready breast and another with a can of formula. It’s a marathon called motherhood.

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Ready, set? Doesn’t matter.

Because the race is starting whether you’re set or not. And, ultimately, all that matters is how much love is in all you do.

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The truth is, you probably won’t even have left the hospital before other seasoned marathoners will make you sweat, asking, “Did you get an epidural or C-section? You didn’t want it, did you? Are you breastfeeding? Well, you know what they say about formula … And you vaccinated? Have you heard of what vaccines might do? A pacifier already? Hmm…”

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Those tiny quick comments from passersby will make you think about how weak you are, how very selfish, how little you know. And that there’s a hard, steep road ahead of you before you can make it to the first ‘good mother’ checkpoint. You have so many roadblocks, and so many hoops to jump through along the way. Parenting suddenly feels like a mountain trail, unforgiving and grueling.

But you start running anyway … because what else is there to do? You try to keep up the pace with other moms, and all the time the questions, like hurdles, seem to multiply. In the many crossroads of information, you are trying to find signs: answers to the questions. Somewhere in the back of your head, there is a voice yelling, “Faster! Faster! Do not slow down! Why isn’t he crawling yet? Why hasn’t he started talking yet? How does any mom have time for drinks with friends? Who even has time to go to work? Is this really you at 100 percent? Something must be wrong! You must be wrong!” Oh yes, it’s the ‘bad mother’ voice. And it gets mean, doesn’t it?

There are days when you want to stop the world and move to a different planet because you don’t want to spend your motherhood in a neurotic state of guilt. But, short of becoming an astronaut, what can you do?

Step one: 

This will sound so easy to do in theory, but when you hear that little “GO!” voice in your head … don’t run. If you are already running, stop. Stay where you are, because you can. Because it’s not a race where they give out trophies for first, second and third place. There are no trophies. Just you and your family.

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Step two:

Pay attention to wise midwives and psychologists and cut out (or stop listening to) the random onlookers of your life. Give yourself a month of peace without Facebook walls, internet chat rooms, or mommy-lunches. Select your guests carefully. Inform your relatives and friends that this is a special time for you, your husband and your newborn baby and that you need a lot of peace and time to settle in.

This is a time of great emotions and susceptibility to suggestions, so save yourself the trouble. Everyone needs an internet detox from time to time, regardless of the stage of motherhood. 

Step three:

Remember, you may be overwhelmed, you may make mistakes, you may be a mom who gets no applause or awards. But you have plenty of time to mature into your motherhood. A good mother is simply a reflective mother, not a perfect one. In the end what counts is how much love is in all you do for your family. The real reward for running the marathon is the moment when your child comes to you, and cuddles with you, or whispers: “Thanks, Mom. You’re the best.”

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