You know how some people get really fired up about political issues? Well I’m not one of them.
You know why? Because I’m too busy getting fired up about this crazy notion that we as parents need to constantly try to prove that we are super-parents, and as a result of it, that our kids are super-perfect-kids.
As a Mom myself with lots of Mom-friends… I fall into the trap of that self-inflicted social pressure to be the one that can say that my baby does “this”… or more importantly, make sure that my baby is the one that DOESN’T do “that.” (It’s so awful, isn’t it? Even writing it down it makes me mad)
But as a photographer, having worked with dozens of parents over the last year and a half, I know that I’m not the only one who goes through it. My very first blog post on my website spoke specifically to this… and I often refer to it mid-session while a two-year-old is having a meltdown and Mom is apologizing profusely.
But, as I continue to work with more and more sweet little newborns and brand new parents, I am sadly reminded how EARLY in parenthood this “notion” of trying to prove perfection starts.
I was a new Mom once too
I remember very vividly in my first days coming home from the hospital that constant anxiety of whether or not I was (or was going to be) a “good” Mom…
Am I feeding her too much? My friend said her baby fed every 2-3 hours, but mine can’t seem to stop. What am I doing wrong?
It’s day 2 and she’s not sleeping through the night yet. I’m definitely doing something wrong.
Does she have enough clothes on? Is 6 layers of onesies ENOUGH to keep her warm?!
Crap… she’s crying… and I don’t know why… aren’t I supposed to know why? Don’t “good” moms know why their baby is crying?
Oh what I would go back and tell my hormonal, new-mom self!!
But the sad part about it is… all the while that I was going through my own ridiculous self-doubting about my parenting abilities, I had outsiders offering the infamous “unsolicited baby advice” (that just feels like them saying “you’re not doing it right… here’s how to do it). Or worse, had people (even close friends) straight-up questioning me on why I was doing something.
Luckily, after all of that “am I good enough” stuff wore off… I finally settled into my own way of parenting, found confidence in it, and could care less what other people thought of it. (although I admit sometimes its easy to fall back into that trap) And I found myself falling in love with those parenting unknowns, and challenging myself to discover “our” way of doing things. But the reality is – we all start somewhere, and it’s a scary somewhere of unknowns that doesn’t need outside influences making it more difficult.
What’s your point, Brea?
My point is… it absolutely breaks my heart every time I see a new Mom or Dad’s anxiety when their baby is “fussy” during a shoot… especially when that anxiety is because they are afraid of what I am thinking about them, their baby or their abilities as parents. Because I’ve been there, and I know how that feels.
So… let me shout it on top of my world-wide-web mountain so all of my 2013 new moms and dads can hear.
- Let’s remember… having a baby is one of the most amazing yet life-changing events in your life. Emotions (and hormones) are running wild. I know this. And anticipate it!
- I don’t expect your home to look immaculate. So don’t waste time cleaning it just because I’m coming, especially when you could spend those precious moments getting to know your baby.
- I don’t expect you to look like your baby slept through the entire previous night … or that you didn’t just have a baby 7 days prior. This isn’t the movies. This is real life.
- I don’t expect you to know how to calm your baby right away if he/she is crying. You just met each other a week ago… it takes time to get to know someone and know how to respond to them.
- I don’t care if your baby has a birth mark – has a cone head – has no hair or a head full of hair – or has baby acne (should have seen my daughter’s!!). Your baby is perfect the way he or she is.
- There is no such thing as your baby “cooperating.” If anything, I’m the one who is there to “cooperate” with YOUR baby. So if the baby is fussy… the blame is on me, not you.
- The topic of feeding your baby was one of the most sensitive ones to me when I was a new mom. And I know it is for a lot of new parents, whether you’re giving formula or breastfeeding. You can feed your baby five times during the session or none. I want you to do what’s best for YOUR baby.
- Babies cry. A lot. And sometimes they cry for 30 minutes straight (or more). And it’s ok. I won’t think any less of you, your baby or your parenting abilities. (and remember – that’s why I give you up to 3 hours for your session so you know you can take the time to cuddle your baby when he or she needs it)
- Some of my most favorite photos that I display on my website came after a baby had a good hour-long breakdown. Remember that in the middle of YOUR baby’s crying spell.
P.S. – Did I mention that it’s perfectly normal for a baby to cry?
You get the point.
The bottom line is this: I am coming into YOUR home within DAYS of you bringing a HUMAN BEING into your world. It’s one of the most amazing times in your life that comes with a lot of changes that take time to get used to. I know that babies aren’t perfect all of the time, and I REALLY know from my own experience that none of us are ever perfect as parents. So I want you to simply see me as just another Mom … who just happens to know how to take photographs. That’s it. You don’t have to prove anything to me (or anyone else for that matter). So instead of worrying about how your baby will “perform” I hope that you can sit back and embrace and enjoy the moment without any fear of judgement.
Because I promise … if your baby isn’t “perfect” … your secret is safe with me. 😉
Thanks for listening…
(Just a little P.S. for any of my past newborn clients who just turned to their spouse and said “Uh oh, honey – I think we may have inspired her latest post”… just know that it’s NOT YOU. This blog post has been in the back of my mind for a long while. It’s inspired not only by the dozens of experiences I’ve had over the last couple of years with newborn sessions, but by the hope that if the photographer who photographed my incredibly crabby baby during her newborn shoot was anyone else but me (who was crying in frustration the entire time!), that they would offer this same encouragement to me!)