My Mantra: Calm Mamma, Calm Baby

And suddenly, after waiting and planning, after a pain like no other, after fear and elation and #allthefeelings and #toomanyhormones and so on and so forth, you are presented with… a tiny human! She is yours. You made him. Now, you know exactly what you’re doing, right? There’s a “Motherhood” app that uploads directly to your brain, yes?

Well, no.

Many questions you try to answer even before the teeny person comes out to say hello. You read some books, start a blog, talk to friends who already have kids, and listen to your mother, or mother-in-law, give a piece of advice, or two (or too many). You might have already done this before. Either way, you start subscribing to the parenting philosophies that make the most sense to you—from crying vs. co-sleeping to purée vs. baby led weaning. Then the baby comes along and changes it all. Because, well, your baby is a person! Even if she’s not your first, you’ve never had this particular human to care for.

I thought I had the answers, but my tiny Dragon showed me otherwise. When she had been crying for an hour without explaining to me why or how to calm her down, it didn’t matter how many blogs and resources I had at hand at 4a.m. Some things just need instinct not research, with an “I’ll just do it” attitude, a lot of “flow,” and most definitely a sense of humor.


The writer and new mom pictured here with daughter Olivia. (Photo: Kelly A.K. Swartz)

From all the moms I’ve met, the questions always seem to be around: “What are your parenting beliefs? Which camp do you belong to?” I’ve seen that many women who had strong expectations of how motherhood would be and how their baby would act were simply not in a happy place. I noticed that many moms who subscribed to a particular philosophy and were inflexible in their beliefs were struggling to be joyful.

My approach became “calm mama, calm baby.” I realized that if I was happy, so was my baby. If I was a wreck, it was very unlikely my child could be tranquil. If a certain attitude toward sleeping or eating, or a particular schedule or activity was making me miserable, it would most certainly make my Dragon miserable, too. I started to flow. Now I focus on learning about this tiny, individual person the universe gifted me, and what works for both her and me. I breathe in and out, and repeat to myself: “calm mama, calm baby, happy mama, happy baby.” I smile, and she smiles back.