Hi Is This Normal,
I am afraid to be home alone with my baby. I’m a 32 year old woman who’s always been fiercely independent and has always had my sh*t together. And I am too scared to be home alone with the baby that I created and brought into this world.
My wife travels a few times a week for work, and every time she does, my mom comes and stays with me. Everyone has been gracious about judging me (except myself, I’m appalled). Is this going to end? What do I do? I’m the baby here. I literally need a babysitter for myself?! This is pathetic.
Dear Being Babysat,
Oh mama. You may not realize this, but what you just described is so incredibly normal, and we need to be talking about this way more than we do. Becoming a parent is TERRIFYING. In theory, you think it’s going to be fairly straightforward and easy. Baby hungry? Feed baby! Baby dirty? Clean baby! Baby sleeping? Watch Netflix! But in reality, it’s absolutely scary. You have this baby, and the doctors or nurses or midwives or whatever just … let you take it home. A live human person! Just, “Here ya go! Best of luck!” No manual. No training. I adopted a dog once and had to take a personality test and have a home inspection and demonstrate that I was capable to keeping the dog alive and happy. But the two kids I had? Sent on my merry way, no questions asked. WTF.
Everyone is being so gracious with you not because they feel sorry for you, but because they get it. They’ve done this, and they understand! They get that this is scary and hard. And also? People assume that women automatically have this innate mothering instinct that immediately kicks in as soon as they become a mom. And that’s not even close to the truth–at least for some of us. You are a first-time parent – you should be scared! Babies are unpredictable, and you don’t suddenly feel 100% comfortable with them just because you had one. This fear you have is not an indictment of you as a person, or as a mother, and it’s not an indicator of failure AT ALL. It is completely and totally normal and expected.
It’ll help to try and zero in on what exactly drives your fear. Is it feeling like you won’t know how to handle certain situations? Is it a fear of not doing it right, or well? The thing is, motherhood is sort of a feet to the fire type sitch, if you know what I mean. You can read all the parenting books in the world, but nothing is going to prepare you for it. You’re going to learn as you go, and with each day, you’re going to feel a little bit more comfortable and in control of the situation. Start with very little baby steps; when your mom is there, ask her to stay hands-off or keep her distance for small intervals of time, so you can captain the ship solo for a bit. Knowing that she’s there and can jump in if you need her might just give you the confidence boost you need to understand that you CAN do this. And if you find yourself in over your head with something, she’s there to help guide you. That’s what moms do! I still call my own mom at least once a week when I need help/advice/someone to hold my hand during a rough patch. Moms are pretty freaking amazing, is what.
But I also want to touch on something else. If what you’re feeling is a generalized anxiety, or you’re feeling overwhelmed or out of sorts since you had your baby, there could be something more going on. Postpartum anxiety affects approximately 10% of women, and can often manifest in symptoms similar to what you’ve described. Again, and I cannot stress this enough, it has NOTHING to do with you or your abilities as a mother. You are not pathetic, not even close – you are a new mama, and you need some help, and that is the most normal and ok thing in the world. But you may need more help than your mom or your wife can provide. That’s why we have doctors and medical professionals, who are trained to know and recognize the kind of help you might need and get you that help.
You call the people in your life babysitters, but they’re so much more than that. They’re your support system, and they’re doing exactly what you need them to do right now. Try to not be so hard on yourself, as you settle into this new stage of life and (with the help of your doctor, if need be) start to gain your footing. No one starts out being 100% comfortable with all of this. It takes time and help and love, and you’ve got that in spades. You CAN do this.
Still Scared But Slightly More Confident (It Took 8 Years!), Is This Normal
About Is This Normal
Is This Normal is a parenting platform built by Little Spoon to help you navigate this new life stage. They are here to answer all your “wait…is this normal?!” questions – all the gross, emotional, embarrassing, shocking, upsetting, and unexpected moments that happen in parenthood. Is This Normal is an always-on advice column featuring renowned experts, and sage, candid words from badass parents who have been there – or are there right now, sharing the raw, intimate parts of this crazy, fun, scary, sometimes embarrassing, I-can’t-believe-this-is-happening journey we are all on.