There is no such thing as “normal,” but there is such a thing as social norms. We all want to fit in with the tribe and the only way to know where we fit or if we fit in at all is to compare ourselves to others we interpret as being in the same category; mothers of similar age, mothers of the same religion, mothers who work or stay at home, my own mommy friends, and maybe even the random mothers on social media. These comparisons may be subconscious until some form of internal conflict arises.
I see it time and time again as a postpartum therapist. Inadequacy emerges because of some thing I want or need that is different to my comparisons. “I feel guilty for wanting help because a lot of moms I know seem to be handing it all by themselves.” “Every mom in my mom groups seems so happy and I’m not” or my own personal comparison that most moms I’ve met went on to have a 2nd or 3rd child, so “what’s wrong with me that I didn’t want that.”
It’s time to ask ourselves what we want, what we deserve, and to love ourselves no matter the comparison. We either redefine the norm (because we can) or find the moms that are similar. It is tough to shake off feeling inadequate or different, but the more confidence I mustered up in myself and in my decisions (by shifting my focus to thoughts of fitting in and feeling a part of) the more I realized moms just like me were all around. The result was a new mom norm in which I fit in and that I felt good about.