Adjusting to Motherhood: My Biggest Challenge

I’ve always been a classic Type A personality–a chronic overachiever, and frankly, a bit of a control freak. That’s not to say I did everything perfectly, but I always strove to, and I based my own personal self-worth on my achievements and ability to do everything, all at once.

To me, unless I got an A+ while standing on my head, it just wasn’t good enough.

All through school and into college, if there was a chance to take on more responsibility, I jumped.  If I could fit in a few extra credits in, I would (especially online courses, which gave me the flexibility to pack my schedule with even more things, which fed my need to stay busy.) I loved being active and involved (expect for a brief rebellious phase in high school…) and by the time I became an adult, I was a pro at cramming more into a day than anyone I knew. It became my very definition. I was the girl who did a lot. A champion multitasker, and I rarely missed a beat.

I’ll save you all the details, but I’m sure you get the jist of it. If I wrote a paper, it had to be honors-worthy. If I baked cookies, I wanted them to be magazine-worthy. Nobody expected it of me, expect for me, and I was my own worst critic.

Becoming a mommy rocked my world in many ways, but perhaps the hardest adjustment has been realizing that I just can’t do it all, all the time, and I sure can’t do it all perfectly.  And no one cares. (which makes me realize that no one but me ever really did…)

My goals upon finding out I was bound for mommyhood? Here goes: Exercise and eat right and keep weight gain below 25 pounds, have an entirely natural labor, breastfeed exclusively, choose organic, non-toxic baby items whenever possible, grow much of our own food, feed my family organic food from scratch, make all of our own homemade, organic baby food, phase out plastic, use cloth diapers, begin freelancing on maternity leave, keep a clean, organized, non-toxic home, spend adequate time with my husband, and look good while doing it all. A half marathon was in the more distant future plans, too…

Can you see where I’m going with this?

OF COURSE I didn’t do it all. I accomplished a good bit of it, but there are things every day that I don’t get done. The sad part is that those things are the ones I think about when I lay my head down at night. I don’t congratulate myself on a job well done. Instead, I criticize myself for those jobs not finished, and even those not finished to my own crazy standards. Some days, absolutely nothing gets done. (In a fight, New Baby will kick To-Do List’s butt every. single. time.)

My son is now 10 ½ months old, and I’m just starting to realize that I’m not failing at this whole mommy game. Accomplishment and achievement mean different things to me than they once did, and though it’s taking a lot of getting used to, I’m adjusting. I try not to compare myself to other mommies, because we all have different priorities, and we all accomplish what we can each day. I know that my choice to do things my way, the natural way (like cooking dinner from scratch or washing diapers) might slow me down in the Mom Olympics, if there were such a thing, but there isn’t. Really, there isn’t.

I live a more thoughtful, examined life now, and I’m very conscious of the example I’m setting. I want it to be positive, so telling myself that I’m not good enough because I can’t keep up just isn’t OK anymore.  I need to teach my son that your worth is about who you are and what you do, not how much you do. He really is the only person I have to answer to, and he’s one happy little boy, so I must be doing something right. Making sure his needs are met is my new top priority, and although making time for exploring the plants in the garden and reading bedtime stories isn’t immediately productive in the same way a full schedule of tasks, goals and challenges can be, the challenges this new life brings are pretty darned fulfilling and I wouldn’t trade it for all the applause or A+’s in the world.

So, while the house may be in a bit of disarray, I have several stalled writing projects, and I may or may not have a piece of food in my hair, I do have the occasional small moment of victory. I managed to change a 3am diaper the other night without disturbing my nursing boy one bit. He didn’t even unlatch.

Now that’s multitasking.


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  1. says

    Oh man, can I related to the Type A personality-overachiever bit. I’ve always been the same way, though I like to think I’ve relaxed at least a bit. I can only imagine what a change motherhood is (/will be for me someday?). It’s got to be a slap in the face (albeit a healthy one) for control freaks! =X

  2. says

    Wendy, this is such an honest and genuine post. I can totally see how your personality (like mine) would lead you to believe you had to do it all at 110% in order to be a good mom. I’m so, so glad you’ve reached this point, where you recognize that doing it all isn’t possible or even undesirable, and that your worth will never rely on how many items you cross off the t0-do list. Wonderful, wonderful post!

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