Put a Bib on It

What if I wasn’t ready to be a mom?


Being a new parent is really, really, really scary.In the first few weeks after we brought our daughter home from the hospital, I used to cry every time the sun went down. Nights were interminably long, unpredictable, terrifying. I felt like I had absolutely no control over my life, and now I was suddenly partially responsible for somebody else’s life. I had to shelter her, soothe her, sustain her with my body.

And it was really, really, really scary.

But it got better. We found a rhythm, we three, and it worked. Our friends came around again. We went out again (admittedly with a whole lot more luggage and for much abbreviated hours, but still). I returned to work and even a little leisure once Miss E was down for the night. A too-kind friend said my husband and I made having a baby look easy. Everything seemed doable.

Until it didn’t.

Inexplicably, I’m dreading the dark again, and not because the four month wakeful is stretching into five. My whole life I’ve panicked over making choices I can’t unmake, but I’ve made one. A big one. What if I only thought I was ready? What if I wasn’t? What if I’m not?

I gave birth to a perfect human being, but every day she spends with me she changes. Perhaps I am not helping her to grow but ruining her, bit by bit. Creating dependencies she might never have had. Teaching her to be scared, or shy, or lazy. She was perfect but I’m not, and that matters, doesn’t it? Sometimes I think I worry when things are too good. Maybe what my not-perfect parents taught me was to always expect the worst.

But that’s just it. No parent is perfect (we’ve been here before). We lose our tempers. We cry sometimes without a good reason. And that’s okay.

By the light of day, my problems seem a whole lot smaller, even silly. But when I’m low, I have so many people to help me back up, to remind me to take a long, hard look at my little gal and recognize her for the amazing person that she is. That makes me feel pretty amazing, too.

Author: Jillian Kuhlmann

Mama. Nerd. Writer.

5 thoughts on “What if I wasn’t ready to be a mom?

  1. Wow, Jillian! I’m sure that it is incredibly scary for you, but to have the courage to reflect on it is truly inspiring!

  2. Would it help to stop thinking of your baby as perfect? If she’s perfect, then she can only get worse, never better, and can only maintain her perfection if you parent her perfectly. Then, you’re never worthy of her and always a tiny mistake away from ruining her for all time. No wonder you’re so anxious! You say it’s ok that no parent is perfect, so why not accept that a baby is human as well? Accepting that she was born with inherent (if invisible and yet-unrevealed) flaws and is doomed to develop more of them no matter what might take away some of the pressure you’re putting on yourself. She can be amazing without being perfect.

    Disclaimer: I haven’t met my baby yet, so I’m saying this as someone who’s never fallen head over heels for a tiny person who’s got half my genes. It will probably be impossible for me to see flaws of any kind in my little guy when I see him, too, and his supposed perfection will probably make me anxious as well. Love is not a rational thing, and the tendency to idealize the beloved is about as natural as reproduction itself.

    • Love certainly isn’t rational! The responsibility of raising a tiny human is just staggering, some days. Thanks for reading and sharing, Mary Jo! You’re going to have some fun times when he arrives 🙂

  3. Pingback: Cogan at One Year | MeReader

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