I sit here writing my first blog post while I have my 2.5 year old on the couch next to me. He has dirt on his face, he barely ate the dinner I prepared, he's picking his nose, and I can honestly say I’m loving this moment despite all of the ways someone else might say it’s not picture perfect.
But it wasn’t always this way. For about the first year and a half of motherhood, I really struggled to find my footing. Confidence as a mom didn’t come easily to be like it did in other areas of my life, like school, work, and social settings.
So what changed? What helped me become CERTAIN that I’m the one who knows Eli best in this whole entire world? Time, lots of self-compassion, and a few kick ass resources I wouldn't let any mom I love go without.
These resources are more important than any item of baby clothing, toy, and arguably anything else on your registry. If you know someone who’s about to become a mom, these are five things you can encourage her to look into, because they will change her forever.
Let’s get to it! In no particular order…
1. “What No One Tells You: A Guide to Your Emotions from Pregnancy to Motherhood” by Dr. Alexandra Sacks and Dr. Catherine Birndorf
This is a super practical guide that will help new moms feel less guilt and more self-esteem, less isolation and more oneness with their fellow moms, less resentment and more intimacy with their family, and learn other useful tools to help get through the natural and unavoidable ups and downs of motherhood. As moms, we all give advice and personal opinions on things. But what about things like not feeling love at first sight with your baby? I didn’t read this book until I was about a year into motherhood. It was helpful then, but it 100% would have changed the course of my early motherhood experience if I knew this information earlier on.
2. "Good Moms Have Scary Thoughts” by Karen Kleiman and Molly Mcintyre
As an OCD/anxiety therapist, I knew that it was normal to have intrusive thoughts, especially as a mom. But when I started to have these thoughts, it was strange - I didn’t see them through the lens of my academic or professional knowledge. I just knew they scared the crap out of me! It was so awesome to read this book and have the context for where my thoughts were coming from. If this book changed my motherhood experience, I can only imagine how eye opening, reassuring, and relieving it could be to a mom who doesn’t know about intrusive thoughts at all.
3. “How to Not Hate Your Husband After Kids” by Jancee Dunn
This is seriously one of the best books, and it's an easy read. It helped me understand differences in how my husband and I parent. These discpreancies didn't mean he was a “bad” father - it was just the way he was, and sometimes we did things differently. It also helped me ease up on my maternal gatekeeping, which allowed me to be more flexible and also help my husband build confidence. As Michael Scott from The Office would say, this was a win, win, win scenario for Eli, my husband, and me.
4. Not Safe For Mom Group (Instagram group/community - @notsafeformomgroup)
This is a stigma-free, anonymous space for boundary pushing conversations - i.e., all the things you want to know and talk about but no one ever does. There’s something about being anonymous where you feel the permission to be more raw, to ask the real questions, and to give the real down and dirty insights. This is the community that made me realize I wasn’t alone, that I wasn’t crazy, and that we were all in this together. As a mom, when you’re struggling or doubting yourself, I don’t think there’s anything quite as reassuring as knowing that other moms are right there with you and you’re not alone. This is where you find those moms.
When I think of my timeline of becoming a mom, how long I struggled with anxiety, and when I actually went to therapy - especially because I am a therapist and should be totally pro-therapy, right? - it really doesn’t make any sense. I had Eli in February of 2018 and didn’t have my first therapy appointment until September of 2019. I really waited that long. When you’re in the thick of it, your mind will come up with a million reasons to NOT go. It’s worth it. Go to therapy. Take it from a therapist who was too proud and ended up paying for it for a year and a half. You do not want to look back and wonder how much more you would’ve been able to enjoy if you just would’ve went a little sooner.
I often wonder how much different and more positive my motherhood experience would have been if I would have found any one of these resources sooner. But we're here now. And because of all of the resources above, I am 100% confident in my decisions in this moment, in the little boy my son is becoming, and the bond we have together.
In addition to these resources, check out my 21 day Strong Mind, Strong Body challenge taking place starting September 1st - registration open now! I'll be going live with Dr. Brittany Masteller on Monday, August 24th at 12 PM EST to talk more about how physical health and mental health are affected during motherhood, as well. Each day for the challenge, you'll receive a mental AND a physical health assignment/goal to help you feel your strongest mentally and physically. It's just $10 and you can sign up now at the top of my main website!
I hope this list serves you. In the meanwhile, it's bedtime for this kiddo - and his mama.