An Open Letter to First Time Mamas

Dear First Time Mama,

Welcome to motherhood. Whether you prayed and planned your whole life for this moment or were unexpectedly thrust into this role there are a few things I would love to share with you. There were so many truths I didn’t understand as a first-time mama. These are the truths people don’t talk about enough. These are the truths I have learned from not only my experiences, but from the experiences of so many mamas I interact with each day. I hope you don’t mind, but I have written a few of these truths down to share with you.

first-time mama

1. You are never ready. None of the pre-pregnancy planning, research or experience with other people’s children will prepare you for this ride.

Unlike other experiences, there is no living vicariously because unless you live it, you will never get it. You can empathize, you can imagine, you can wonder, and you can read as much as you want, but you are not a mother UNTIL you are a mother.

It is not giving birth that makes you a mother. You are a mother the moment you are entrusted with the responsibility of caring for and raising another human life – whether it begins in your womb or not.

And when you are given this responsibility it will be terrifying. You will feel like a child with so much to learn. You will wonder how the hell anyone did it before you. You will feel so many emotions that it may be hard to decide exactly which ones you are feeling the most.

2. Your emotions will soar. In the first days or weeks or months or even years you may feel: frustrated, scared, elated, blind with joy, giddy, unexpectedly calm, jealous, grief, regret, confused, overwhelmed and in awe. If you think this is a contradictory list, then you are right.

3. Being a mother IS a contradiction. You will love your child, but sometimes need time away. Then you may feel nervous or guilty about leaving. You will believe your child is perfect, but then one day realize he or she is just as flawed as you. You will wish you could cuddle and hold your baby forever, but then realize you don’t really want to do this every moment of your life (at least not while you are in the bathroom).

And the thing no one will tell you is that this is okay. We can be good Moms and be wrought with contradictions. We can be good Moms and not know what the hell we are doing. We can make mistakes or lose our temper and still be good Moms. We can be really bad cooks or terrible housekeepers and still be good Moms. We can choose to stay home or work outside the home or (gasp) even travel for our jobs and still be good Moms.

4. The perfect mama is a myth. Good does not mean perfect. Perfection is the lie sold to us by the media. Perfection does not mean you are a good mother, so stop trying to be “perfect.” Sometimes people like to pretend (lie). They put on a smile and act like they know what they are doing or that they have it all together and we ALWAYS fall for it. For some reason we always believe that other moms know more or can handle more. But, no one is immune to feeling overwhelmed. Underneath we are ALL insecure and unsure at times. We are all just doing the best we can. Outside appearances are deceiving.

5. You have instincts, so use them. Ask questions and do your research, but ultimately please do what feels right. You are unique and so is your child. Advice and recommendations are not mandates. You do not HAVE to do anything. You can make your own decisions. YOU are the mother. You can choose to breastfeed or give formula or a little of both. You can sleep with your baby, use a bassinet, or allow your child to cry it out in a crib.

If jelly beans and lollipops before breakfast work for you, then don’t let anyone raise an eyebrow. If you don’t want your child to eat pizza and cake at a birthday party, this is YOUR choice. It doesn’t matter if your way doesn’t look like anyone else’s way. There is no right or wrong way to parent.

6. You can and should ask for help. If you are feeling completely lost or overwhelmed it is okay to admit it out loud. If something is not working, make a change. It is not a failure to admit you need help. You may even be amazed to learn how many people want to help you, but are waiting to be asked. You are not alone and there is no shame in honesty. There is no shame in turning to whatever will make you feel whole – whether it is yoga, deep breathing, weekends away, extra paid help, or antidepressants.  Your mental health is just as important as your physical health.

7. Being a Mama is a long-term gig.  Being a mother is not an 18-year job. It is not even a lifetime job. You will always be this person’s Mama – even after death. To this little human being you have always been and WILL ALWAYS BE his or her mother. Does this mean you have to ONLY be a mother? Of course not. You can and should be more. What this means is that your role as a mother will not be defined by one moment in time. You will be judged rather by the total sum of the parts. If you struggle through the toddler years it doesn’t mean all is lost. If you struggle through the teenage years it doesn’t mean you have blown this gig. You have years to make mistakes and then make amends. You don’t have to be good at every stage. You just have to be there and be YOUR CHILD’S mama.

I know you will be amazing as long as you are you. So I wish you the best, but more importantly I wish you a perfectly imperfect adventure.

Love and Light,

Nicole aka Tiny Steps Mommy

(14.5 years and counting into my gig)


P.S. – If this speaks to you, please leave a comment or share this post with other new moms. Thanks!

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.


Nicole Dash is a writer, blogger and business owner who lives in the suburbs outside Washington, DC with her husband and four children. She started her career as a journalist and copy editor. She also managed public relations and corporate communications for a national franchise company, but in 2006 started a child care business. In 2012, she launched Tiny Steps Mommy, a lifestyle and parenting blog that quickly gained a following and connected her to an expansive group of women-owned businesses. In 2013, she started a digital marketing consulting business that focused on growing community in an authentic way. Through those connections she was inspired to open Play, Work or Dash, a coworking space that also offers onsite childcare up to three hours per day. It is where like-minded professionals pursue their business goals with the extra level of support parents desire; a place where you "bring your kids to work." She is an active member of the Washington, DC blogger community. She has been published on The Washington Post, Huffington Post, Scary Mommy, Mamalode and Pop Sugar.




  1. Love and light right back at you! Beautiful insights. So proud to be your mama 🙂

  2. Asking for help is such a hard one for me. I have never been very good at that. But it is SO important.

    Great list!
    Tracie recently posted…How To Use Overlays To Highlight Your Text On PicturesMy Profile

  3. These are great words of wisdom. I read so much before having kids, and while a lot of that advice was helpful, I still felt unprepared.
    It’s so helpful to reach out to other moms to let them know they are not alone. And yes, it is a perfectly imperfect adventure. Perfectly stated! 🙂
    Sarah | LeftBrainBuddha recently posted…This is Mindful ParentingMy Profile

  4. This is a wonderful post. It’s so true and will speak to every mom out there. I’m glad I came across your blog today on Bloppy Bloggers!
    Elizabeth @ Rocks, No Salt Mommy recently posted…The Mixed Emotions of Her FirstsMy Profile

  5. This is awesome! One of my best friends gave birth to her first child a month ago. I’m going to share this post with her, thank you!
    Melanie Chisnall recently posted…Dark Chocolate, Nut and Cranberry TreatMy Profile

  6. Beautiful and honest. l think the contradiction part is so important. It’s okay to feel all these mixed emotions. Giving yourself permission to parent as you see best and to also feel all these emotions are key to keeping yourself happy, too.

  7. You’ve summed up everything so beautifully. This is going to be great guide for new moms and a reminder for the others!
    TK recently posted…Share your story on ‘A Day Like Today’ Guest Post SeriesMy Profile

  8. This is so true! I remember when my sister was pregnant with her first child and her emotions were through the roof! Although she had a year experience with motherhood before her next child, when she was pregnant the second time with her husband, her emotions still went skyrocket!
    Keith DuBarry recently posted…An Unexpected Sign from a House Fire (September 2010)My Profile

  9. Your entry was truly inspiring. I had a whirlwind of my past as a kid, the woman before I was pregnant, the woman after labor and delivery..and now? Back to the woman before I was pregnant. I experienced trauma from childhood which lead to depression and post traumatic stress as an adult. I was drrinking and doing drugs. I was at my cross roads….I hit rock bottom and got treated. I got treated or 3 months…and out of those 29 yrs f my life? I feel like I lived for the first time during those 3 months of treatment. I, then, got pregnant. She is now 4 months old and I fell into a huge hole….whereas, I feel guilty all the time….I’m less motivated…I felt like I was going to fail as a mother bc of my condition. After reading your entry…this made me feel better. I’m a first time mom and…I’m learning how to enjoy this whole experience day by day….

  10. 198976 162320Aw, it was a very good post. In idea I would like to devote writing such as this furthermore,?

  11. Thanks for sharing those guidelines… With all those sacrifices of being a mom, I love my mom more! 🙂