I had my first kid at 28 years old. That may seem like a totally normal and fully adult time in one’s life to embark on parenthood, but I was barely five years out of college, still partying hard, working harder, and spending my salary on Prada wedges I’d only wear once. I was married — and, okay, having a baby was part of the plan — but we didn’t know it would happen so soon. So when it did, it felt like that record-scratch moment: My husband and I had no idea the challenges that lay ahead.
Because I was the first of my friends to have a baby, I became something of a child-rearing guinea pig for the group. When my crew was conquering and progressing, I was home watching Yo Gabba Gabba and feeling my brain slowly ooze out of my ear. I felt like I was charting new territory all alone: Who knew that my son would only stop crying during his “witching hour” if I did lunges with him strapped in a Baby Bjorn with Bob Marley blaring? I could’ve used a clue to get to that extremely specific formula. But there I was.
There is no doubt that new mums feel external pressure to live up to certain standards or expectations, but sometimes the worst of it comes from ourselves. I certainly felt pressure to reinvent the wheel, and do everything as if I were the first, and I was going to be different, somehow.
But instead of feeling psyched to come up with my own methods, I felt something I’d also experienced in my work life: Gee, it would’ve been great if the elder mentor-like folks around would’ve given me a heads up instead of just watching me slow-motion-car-crash through this thing. Now that I’m almost nine years in, there’s a whole lot I wish I could go back and tell my 28-year-old new-mum self. Since looking back can be a great way to move forward, and because it’s about time I try out my elder hat, I’m about to get into exactly what those things are, ahead.