I became a mom nearly a year ago. I still remember, vividly, the moment the doctor pulled my son out of me. His fair skin, small arms, a head full of thick black hair. I remember the feelings of both relief and euphoria I had as I was wheeled out of the delivery room–relief that I survived child birth and euphoria that I was now a mother. I felt like I was walking on air when I woke up the next morning.
Motherhood has given me an unspeakable amount of joy that somehow seems to grow stronger with every passing day. However, looking back at those first weeks and months with my newborn, I was also racked with emotions. I remember crying when I was still learning how to breastfeed in the hospital and my son was not latching right away. I remember the anxiety I felt over every little coo or movement he made, wanting to best respond to his every need.
Spiritual Advice for the First-Time Mom
While the past year has been filled with a roller coaster of emotions, the Lord has also revealed Himself in countless ways in my journey as a first-time mom. I hope the lessons I’ve learned can provide a glimmer of encouragement and hope for my fellow new moms out there.
Become besties with Mother Mary.
God sure knew what He was doing by giving us Mary. We automatically have a confidante we can turn to who has walked this same path herself. I prayed to Mary before becoming a mom, whether it was a Hail Mary during penance or the occasional Rosary.
However, my relationship with Mary reached a new level once I became a mom. I found myself reaching out to her for strength and wisdom. In the early months after my son was born, while he was in the middle of a crying fit, I found myself asking Mary in utter desperation, “Mother Mary, did Jesus ever have tantrums?”
Since then, I have found peace in praying the Rosary while driving in the car as my son naps. I am so thankful God gave us Mary. We can call to her for grace and encouragement or to simply vent when the going gets tough.
Offer your weaknesses to God.
In the early months as a new mother, one of my favorite Bible verses came to life. 2 Corinthians 12:9 says:
My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made great in weakness. Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that His power might rest in me.
There are many times as a new mom when we feel weak, whether it is physically from the postpartum recovery and lack of sleep, or emotionally weak from the demands that motherhood has placed on us. The Lord doesn’t delight in watching us struggle, but He reminds us that He is there waiting to offer His grace to get you through.
There were many moments (and there still continues to be) when I feel myself give in to my weaknesses and say to myself, “I’m a bad mom.” But when those feelings start to creep in, I simply remember the verse above. I remind myself to offer up my weaknesses to God and to let Him fill me with His grace to sustain me.
It’s OK to ask for help.
We all want to be superwoman. We all want to prove we can do it all–be a domestic goddess, take care of our spouse, feed and walk the dog–all while figuring out how to be a mom to a helpless little baby.
I wanted to do it all, so much so that I felt defeated when I eventually hired a cleaning service to help with the house. But looking back, I realize it’s OK to ask for help. There is no shame in it. We are not weak or any less of a spouse or mom for asking for help.
Don’t feel guilty for making decisions to help you gain some time back for either yourself, your baby, or both. Don’t fault yourself for it. You are still a superwoman.
Be kind to yourself.
Like most new parents, I read all the baby books before my son was born. I highlighted and bookmarked important chapters. I took my breastfeeding class. I expected my baby to latch on perfectly and pleasantly as soon as he came out of the womb.
But as all mothers know, nothing ever turns out exactly as planned. It’s not as simple as following a step-by-step guide. No book can ever prepare you for the ride of parenthood. Silly me for expecting to have it all down right away.
Don’t tear yourself apart. Be patient with yourself and know that everything will fall into place and you and your spouse will figure this out together, one step at a time.
You will get advice. From everyone. From everywhere. But one thing I’ve tried to remind myself is to remain teachable. People have walked this path before you. Particularly when the advice comes from family, know that it comes from a place of love and from people who care just as much about your little baby as you do.
As hard as it may be sometimes, try to be open to receiving the advice with grace and a humble heart. 1 Peter 5:5 says:
All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.”
Who knows, pretty soon you will be a parenting pro and might find yourself doling out the advice!
Offer up the small things.
St. Teresa of Calcutta said, “Do small things with great love.”
Know that every little act can be an opportunity for prayer, whether it’s cleaning up another diaper blowout or getting up in the middle of the night to nurse your baby. In his book Rediscover Catholicism, Matthew Kelly writes:
Your daily tasks have spiritual value…In the same way, washing the dishes can be as much a prayer as praying the rosary. Each task, each hour offered to God is transformed into prayer. And in all these ways you give glory to God through your daily work.
Never underestimate everything you do as a mom. Every small act, when done in love, can be a form of worship to the Father.
You’re Doing Great, Mama
When my son was four months old, I received a thoughtful postcard from a friend, a fellow mom. The front read, “You are amazing!” And the back read, “Praying you know and see God’s grace sufficient in these days.” To my fellow new moms, know that you are amazing. Lean into His grace during those long nights, tired mornings, and in all the small things throughout the day.
Any first-time moms out there? What are your current struggles? How can we pray for you?
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April Deocariza is a Southern California native now living the expat life in Germany. When not working full-time as a mommy to her six-month-old son, she loves trekking around Europe and enjoying delicious food. Relaxing with a coffee, warm cookie and a napping child is her happy place. Find out more about her here.