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For All the New Moms Who Feel Clueless

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For All the New Moms Who Feel Clueless

Lately, I’ve been talking to a lot of new mothers who feel so much pressure to have it all together and don’t feel safe expressing how overwhelming it can be to have a child. If you have a new baby, and youíre feeling like you have no clue how to be a mother, youíre SO not alone. When my daughter Siena was born, I felt so unraveled by her, as if she could see right through me to all my insecurities. I wrote this in my journal when she was just a wee one, so if you or someone you love has a new baby, this post is for you…

Stop it.

Stop staring at me, like you can see inside me, peel me like a tangerine, dismantle my muscles one by one, crack open my ribcage and see my quivering, shy heart. Stop gazing at me with those opalescent eyes and your X-ray tell-all vision that sees through every steel wall I erect. Stop, Siena. I donít like it.

But you donít listen to me. You lay there, a pink, swaddled prodigy with the white fluffy cat-eared hat that barely fits your enormous head, rubbed almost bald on the back of your head, even though we turn you from side to side to avoid it. You keep staring, with your cornflower blue eyes, as if you know every secret, every vulnerability, every mistake Iíve ever made.

Youíre an old soul — I can tell, but how do you know so much already?† Youíre only one week old. But oh, little one, youíve had to go through so much already. Your Papa telling me he wanted to go meet God on the day you were born.† You, absorbing your Nanaís tears into your warm, pink baby skin that smells like spring.† You, sleeping bare skin to bare skin against your Daddyís chest, nourished by a sort of paternal nursing.

And me, then thereís me, so broken and humbled and driven to my knees with the certainty that I have no clue how to be a mother.† And you know this already. I can tell.† You can see right through me, and we have no secrets, even though I wish I could shelter you from my raw, bleeding pain and the deluge of my insecurity.† I will never be a good enough mother.† I will never be the mother my mother was to me.† And you can†tell, looking through me with your wise guru gaze.

I have nothing to give.

When I was your age, my mother had been a mother her whole life, she knew it like she knew her fingers and her toes.† It was never something outside of herself.† It WAS her.† But Iím not like her.† I look at you and your wise little eyes and your downy feather hair and your pink tulip lips and your perfect little monkey toes that grasp everything that comes their way.† And I feel like a blank.† I have no idea what to say to you, how to touch you, how to sing the right lullabye, how to help you navigate this world I donít understand.† I envision years of birthday candles and Goodnight Moon and Barbie dream houses, but I donít know how to teach you to make the perfect wish, learn from the books you read, and imagine a life better than Barbieís.

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Lissa Rankin

Lissa Rankin, MD is a mind-body medicine physician, founder of the†Whole Health Medicine Institute training program for physicians and other health care providers, and the New York Times bestselling author of†Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof That You Can Heal Yourself.† She is on a grassroots mission to heal health care, while empowering you to heal yourself.† Lissa blogs at† and also created two online communities -† and† She is also the author of two other books, a professional artist, an amateur ski bum, and an avid hiker. Lissa lives in the San Francisco Bay area with her husband and daughter.


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9:02AM PDT on Jun 11, 2011

Thank you for sharing these beautiful words!!!! I am about to be a new single mom, and I've had moments of feeling so overwhelmed, scared and anxious. But, I'm having more moments of feeling as though God would not bless me with a healthy baby girl in my belly if He didn't trust that I would be able to care for her. I hold onto and cherish these moments of full joy, gratitude and excitement and let go of the worries and fears. It's not been easy to do, especially at first, but I realized at some point in my 2nd trimester that I had to focus on the positive points of becoming a mother and bringing a life into this world because I didn't want to make my child as nervous as I was!!!!
Your words are deep, emotional, beautiful and poetic. I am grateful to you for sharing because this is a reminder that I'm not alone in my feelings.
God bless you and your family!

10:32PM PDT on Jun 9, 2011

Thanks for sharing

2:12PM PDT on Jun 9, 2011


2:04PM PDT on Jun 9, 2011

Even having motherhood come naturally isn't easy, i'm blessed with a beautiful baby boy plus another on the way and after all I have been through in life, this is one thing that has come pretty easily to me... however I find myself constantly dealing with people who think that I should be having problems and keep treating me like I am unable to do things myself and always have negative things to say about pregnancy, motherhood and all the problems I will have (this started when I was pregnant). I think all new moms need to be listened to and supported, instead of people just making assumptions without bothering to find out the truth. After all how can you truely help someone, if you don't bother to find out what they need? If a mum needs help, then she should be able to ask without being made to feel bad and when things are going well she should be able to feel happy about that without other people diminishing it.

By the way Lissa, it is good to have that voice that questions our abilities, it keeps us searching for better ways of doing things, including being a parent, otherwise we would just be sheep blindly following someone else.

1:53PM PDT on Jun 9, 2011

That was beautiful.

8:59AM PDT on Jun 9, 2011

Not too long ago, a mom on (a parenting website and board) was given hell by some fellow moms after expressing doubts and difficulties. It was awful to witness. Some of us spoke up for her as quickly as we could but, not surprisingly, I never saw another post from her again.

As a new parent, I once confessed to a friend who's child was grown that I had imagined driving off the cliff every time I drove passed a particular spot because I felt so overwhelmed and exhausted. My friend replied, "Oh thats normal for moms!" and she went on to explain how difficult her boss had been to her that day.

I welcome your insights and encourage more moms to share their moments. I'd love to see the next gen of parents become more conversational about the physical and emotional challenges inherent to parenthood.

8:12AM PDT on Jun 9, 2011


7:10AM PDT on Jun 9, 2011

Thanks for sharing. I've forwarded to a friend is overwhelmed at the moment.

6:11AM PDT on Jun 9, 2011

I clicked this as I am going to be a grandma soon. My daughter in law & son are pregnant & I worry about how they will take being parents. For her in particular. Interesting & well written. They are both wishing for a girl & the ultra-sound is today so I can not wait to find out. I think it's a boy! They will be 21 by the time baby comes well I was 17 when I got pregnant with him & it was hard but I had my now deceased Mother to help me learn to be a good mother!

4:55AM PDT on Jun 9, 2011

One more thing, we all feel clueless at some point. My daughter is an excellent person but I still think 'if only i had done this' or 'I wish I had done that'. It's never always easy.

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