There are girls who grow up looking forward to being a mother, maybe planning on having lots of kids and, of course, breastfeeding. Some go on to actually fulfill those dreams and become the mothers they always wanted to be. Others come face to face with difficulties like infertility, miscarriages or even just the realities of the cost of having and raising children; those dreams evolve with the adult who adapts their expectations along the way.
Other women aren’t so sure they are even mother material: Am I ready? Will I know what to do? It doesn’t sound like much fun to me.
Some women know they are going to breastfeed from the time they are children…it’s part of being a mom. And some slip into breastfeeding just that easily. But the reality of breastfeeding may be a rude awakening for others, perhaps more difficult that ever imagined.
Years ago when I was a younger mother, I remember reading that every mother is going to be very good at some things about mothering, not so much at others. Some moms would love the baby years and watch their children grow into birthday parties and school projects with regret. Other moms would tolerate the baby years and eagerly anticipate playing catch or teaching gardening or playing dress-up with their school age kids. The key being that most moms are going to enjoy some parts of their children’s lives more than others but that didn’t meant they were less of a “good mother” than anyone else. Perhaps I remember this because I was relieved that I really disliked kids birthday parties, even though I remembered my mom going all out with fantastic parties for my sisters and me.
Breastfeeding is like motherhood because you discover things that surprise you (I knew someone who said she loved middle-of-the-night feedings because that’s when she could pray!), not everything is as great as you imagined it would be (“where did I miss the part about sore nipples”), and you end up loving things you never expected to.
Breastfeeding means you discover things about yourself you never knew: how much strength you really have, how little sleep you really can get by on, how amazing your body is and how much you love this new little being, even if you weren’t sure you were even ready to be a mom.
On this Mother’s Day, give yourself the credit you deserve for what you have accomplished and how you have grown. You give the best you have. Sometimes it matches or even exceeds your expectations; sometimes it falls short. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t enough. And you have many more years of loving and mothering ahead of you to discover even more about yourself and your child.
Sue Petracek, IBCLC
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