When my first kiddo was teeny, I was obsessed with strollers. I did extensive research, read all the reviews and I even considered modifying a model to make it just right. If you ask my husband how many strollers we have owned (for a week) he will just laugh, he can't even talk about them any more. For a laugh, I just asked him myself to see what he'd say. "What was our stroller situation? Fluid." It needed to be tall enough so that I didn't kick it, have enough storage but not too much so that I didn't look like a bag lady, wheels that turned easily on all terrain.... I did lots of babysitting when I was in high school so I had time to hone my list of demands. I also didn't want to spend $700.
That's the angle I went with when I was a Mom with her own teeny baby, devout researcher. This was what I did when I wasn't making homemade baby food and pumping and freezing stores of breast milk. There's nothing wrong with what I did, my babe was well-nourished, I saved money on baby food and we eventually found a dope stroller (that's still in the garage waiting for the right person to inherit it) It's what I made all that mean that made trouble for me. This thinking can be summed up in the story of the day the dope stroller arrived, ready to be assembled. I opened up the box, lay out all the parts and completely came apart. I called my best friend in hysterics. I did not know the first thing about what I was doing with this stroller which meant I had no clue about being a Mom or raising this child or feeding, clothing, saving for college, losing the baby weight, getting out of the house alone, having to leave the house someday soon and go back to work, what diapers to get that are safe for the environment, what diaper cream is best, or nipple cream, and when do we take the pacifier away and I can't for the life of me assemble this stroller so how are we supposed to take a walk when it's time? My friend wisely suggested that I put down all tools, strap my baby into a front carrier and walk away from the house.
When I was babysitting, I can remember pretending the kids were mine. I can remember taking them to the park and wondering whether anyone there actually thought they were mine. It was like playing with dolls and I had a blast. When I had my first child I thought about it all so differently. The job felt so big and overwhelming. I decided to mask my immense insecurity and self-doubt by creating an obstacle course so complex that it would prove to the outside world I definitely had my Mothering shit together, that I was a natural. I had a degree in education, plus all that babysitting, so I had better know it all and do it right.
Self-doubt, comparison, insecurity are all thieves. When I'm believing that I'm not enough, I spend all my time bobbing and weaving, it's exhausting and leaves me with nothing to show for it. When entertained, they rob me of creativity and joy. Making baby food from scratch, pumping breast milk, creating a whole series of original photographs based on the alphabet for the baby's room were all creative endeavors, and could have brought me so much joy had I not tried using them all as badges that prove I deserve to be called a Mom. The creativity inherent in Motherhood is what earned me Mom status, nobody revokes that. Creativity and self-inquiry are the tools that have unwound all of this thinking for me. They are the practices I return to again and again when my thinking causes me to come apart. Each grounds me in the present and shows me the choice in every moment for peace or pain. I can attach to thinking, and my mind can cook up quite the elaborate case, or I can sit still and the reality that's always kinder.
I hope I remember writing all this when I'm spiraling in a crisis of confidence: it's all choices for peace or pain. I can set anything down and walk away to remember the present and reality.