"I'm a Fantastic Mom"
I wasn't one of those women who spend their pregnancy freaking out about whether they'll be a good mother. I mean, I knew that being in charge of someone else's survival would be life-altering and fairly scary, but I didn't worry about sucking at it. Women had been doing this forever -- 90 percent of it had to be intuitive, right? Apparently not. In the months following the birth of my son Benjamin, a neighborhood walk was enough to stir major feelings of inadequacy in me. Was the old woman down the street right about my baby not being dressed warmly enough? Was I pointing out every fire truck and dog that crossed our path? Why was that other infant able to sit up when my guy was still floppy? And how had Sturdy Baby's mom lost her pregnancy weight so quickly? I hadn't felt this insecure since my first day of high school. I've since learned that most new moms have moments when they're filled with more self-doubt than an awkward, pimple-ridden freshman. Here, six ways to ensure that you don't lose sight of just how great you are.
1. Tune out the voices: Never in your life have you been showered with so much unsolicited advice. Everyone has something to say about how you're raising your kid. "People like to believe they cared for their children well, and they want to pass along their wisdom and insights," says Susan Newman, Ph.D., a social psychologist and the author of Little Things Long Remembered: Making Your Children Feel Special Every Day. Sarah Vazquez of Big Bear Lake, California, hated it when people she didn't know offered advice on how to parent Cameron, her 6-month-old. "When he was crying, strangers would tell me to try a frozen washcloth or to put rum in his bottle at night." While the comments were just annoying at first, they began to eat away at her confidence. "It made me feel like I didn't know what I was doing." here's how: The bad news is, there's nothing you can do to stop the advice from pouring in. The good news is that some of these words of wisdom are actually wise (not the ones about rum, of course). The key is to learn to filter out the useless stuff and keep what can really help you. A way to do this, says Newman, is to pick one or two people whose advice you'll consider strongly. "That might be your pediatrician, your sister, or even your mother-in-law," Newman says. When it comes to dealing with everyone else, just smile politely or say "I'll think about that," and grit your teeth. You can also take a moment to remind yourself of your plan. "Reiterating your commitment to take advice only from your inner circle shores up your defenses, helping you to deal with intrusive people."
Jana Banin is a writer and mother in Brooklyn, New York.