You are Enough

Jill Bertelsen
As you are getting ready to have a new baby, there’s so much excitement and hype about bringing the baby home. You look forward to the cozy snuggles, the innocent smiles, the coos, the giggles, the tiny shoes. You look forward to the connection you’ll share with your new bundle, and the completeness of family. Really, you look forward to the highlights and the best of times.

However, nobody warns you about some of the darker moments. Social media is great at that–giving you only the best snapshots and filtering through the not-so-pretty stuff like constant “mom guilt,” unsolicited advice, judgments and ridicules that come from other people. As a new parent, I was completely blindsided by all the doubts and negativity that flooded my mind. It seemed like everything I did, there was a better way, or at least an opinion about a different way, that led me to believe I was not adequate. I felt like a failure when I saw other moms blissfully breastfeeding their baby while mine struggled to latch. I got a ton of grief when I chose to formula feed to supplement my baby’s meals. I felt guilty when I didn’t feel well enough to take my baby to the library or plan a fancy playdate with friends. It was so hard to see other new parents doing “better” than me and feeling like somehow I was failing. It became difficult to see through the clouds that settled in about how I was doing in my new role. I felt defeated and discouraged.  

If you have experienced some of the same things, please know, you are not alone. Parenting is hard. It is a learning curve. It is not something that we come equipped with. Yes, there are instincts, but just like any other new job, it requires training and practice. I don’t say that to discourage you. I say that to help you realize that you are not the only one struggling. You are not alone in your circumstances. You are heard, and you are understood.

New mamas and new dads, you are enough. You are doing an amazing job in your new role. You are the most perfect parent for your child, better than any other parent could be for them. Your strengths, your talents, and your love are exactly what your little one needs in this life. No other person could give them what you have to offer. You are qualified, and you are capable.

I know, from very personal experience, that this might be a difficult thing to believe right now, especially during the sleepless nights and crying spells. But, I am here to remind you that there is light at the end of the tunnel. You baby loves you, and he is not trying to manipulate you or give you are hard time on purpose.

During these trying times is when your baby is earning your trust, learning that you are there to provide for and respond to them. The energy you are putting forth right now is not in vain. In fact, according to John Bowlby and his attachment theory, everything you are doing for your child is helping to shape their emotional development in all relationships. The theory suggests that as you respond to you infant’s cries, they begin to develop a trust in you that their needs will be taken care of. They begin to learn that “Mom and Dad are there, and I can rely on them.” Every diaper change, every feeding, and every interaction you have with your child lets him know that you are close by and will respond. This develops a strong bond between parent and child, and it shapes the child’s expectations for all other relationships. Please believe me when I say your efforts are being noted. The late night feedings and the 18th diaper change of the day, as daunting as they may be, are helping your child learn to trust you. It does not have to be done perfectly. It does not have to have done with finesse or complete eloquence. Simply responding tells your baby you are there. They are beginning to know you as their safe place. They are developing love for you.

It is so hard. But, let me remind you that you are enough. You are not defined by other people’s judgments or opinions. Whatever you choose for your baby is the best choice. Trust your judgement. You have motherly and fatherly instincts that will tell you exactly how to care for your child. Sure, advice from others will help, but do not feel discouraged if your choice is different from theirs.

I promise you, it will not matter if you use Huggies or Pampers. Applaud yourself for keeping their diapers clean.

It does not matter if you bottle feed, spoon feed, or follow baby-led weaning strategies. Be so proud that you were able to offer your baby good meals today.

It does not matter what type of clothing he wears, what brand of car seat you have in the back seat, or what fancy gadgets you have to care for him. Take pride that you are keeping him safe and protected from harm.

Please know that you are the most qualified person to make choices for your child. No one can do it better than you. No one can love your child more than you. You are the most perfect person to fill the role as Mom or Dad. Your child needs you, and most importantly, your child loves you. I know it can be challenging, but keep your chin up! Mommas and Dads, you’ve got this!