My pregnancy was such an exciting time. In eager anticipation of Baby Mwah’s arrival, I read dozens of pregnancy, parenting and baby books. I gathered a collection of developmentally-appropriate toys, a variety of board books, and baby proofed my house. I was convinced that I was ready for motherhood. I was wrong.
After so many years of in the workforce, I was completely unprepared for maternity leave. I was used to a hectic schedule, frequent meetings, and frequent business trips. But then…POOF…in an instant, my life changed. My days were now a blank slate with the exception of the seemingly eternal cycle of feeding-diapering-napping. It was disconcerting and isolating to be home all day with a baby who could only communicate by crying.
One day while baby was napping, I picked up a review copy I had received of The Rookie Mom’s Handbook: 250 Activities to Do with (and Without!) Your Baby and started reading. Written by the two bloggers who started www.rookiemoms.com, this passage in The Rookie Mom’s Handbook snapped me out of my funk:
“Welcome to Motherhood…You’re a rookie mom. Untrained, no experience. That’s you. And that’s not an insult. Even those of us who spent our adolescence babysitting for other people’s children or who work as preschool teachers or pediatric nurses are in for some big surprises. We’ve never been moms before. It’s not the same as changing a few diapers or setting up messy art projects. It means you are in charge all day, every day, and you and that baby are not going anywhere (or getting out of pajamas) unless you make it happen. When our babies were born, we discovered that hours and days lose shape when you have no place you’re expected to be. For those of us who are accustomed to a scheduled, busy life, that can be confusing. Lack of structure can throw even the most confident opinionated woman into a state of mental uncertainty.”
When I finished that passage, I breathed a big sigh of relief. These women “got me.” They understood that it is tough to be a new mom and that it can be embarrassing to admit that you feel anything other than complete fulfillment and joy being home with your new baby.
Their book had a simple prescription to fix the way I was feeling: “Get out of the house!” They weren’t suggesting that I leave baby with a sitter and run back to the office…but instead that I do something outside every single day “even when it seems easier just to stay in.”
The Rookie Mom’s Handbook is full of suggestions for fun activities to do with your new baby. The book is organized by month, so the suggestions are matched to your confidence level as well as your baby’s age. Some of the early suggestions are simple, such as learning how to use all of your baby gear or going to the grocery store with baby. Others are more adventurous or crafty. All of them have helped me learn to embrace the joy of motherhood without feeling like I’ve lost my identity.
If you are new to motherhood and looking for some fun maternity leave suggestions or if you just want a great baby shower gift for that pregnant friend from your office, I highly recommend buying a copy of The Rookie Mom’s Handbook: 250 Activities to Do with (and Without!) Your Baby.
For a chance to win a copy, leave a comment on this post by 11:59pm on July 3, 2008 letting us know 1) why you need this book or 2) your favorite activity with baby.
Available at bookstores or Amazon.com.