Mom Instinct: Finding the Balance Between Trusting Myself and Following Others


Since becoming a mom five years ago, I never felt like I had a “mom instinct.” I feel like I got 99% of my mom “how-to” information from either a) watching other moms around me or b) reading blogs and social media posts from that silly phone that is always, somehow, close by. I have found this to be especially true in those first few months (or years) when I found myself given this beautiful little human, who also happened to be a complete stranger. And if that wasn’t discombobulating enough, I suddenly realized that I also changed and had to re-introduce myself…to myself. I then noticed my entire family dynamic changed, and we all had to shift and maybe thrash a bit before settling into our newly defined spaces. 

I kept waiting for that whole “mom instinct” thing to come knocking on my door to answer all my questions and calm my fears. Looking back now, I can see during those baby and toddler years, every time my instinct did show up, I was so quick to dismiss it, doubt myself, and turn to the always reliable rabbit hole of Google searches. This of course left me feeling even more confused and doubtful. I observed other moms around me at work, in the community, or on TV, and I pulled bits and pieces from each of them to try and patch myself into the mom that I was “supposed to be.”

Before moving to Portland a year ago, we lived in Maine and I commuted 45 minutes and worked full time at a job that started at 7:30 and lasted easily past 4:00. My kids were always some of the first dropped off and often the last picked up at daycare. Our breakfast was consumed in the car, dinner was something fast and easy, any play time after dinner happened for as long as it took me to do a surface level clean-up, and bedtime routines started an hour or so after we walked in the door. Our weekends were over-scheduled before they even began; cleaning, groceries, family events, or invitations from friends. We did this week after week after week, and I told myself I was doing the best I could and my kids were growing and happy, and all of that was true. But they were going through those baby and toddler stages at lightening speed, and my mom instinct told me I was just barely managing the logistics of our lives. 

Suddenly, we had this opportunity to move to Portland and I would be able to stay home every day with both of my kids. We took the leap, moved across the country, and I began my newest journey of stay-at-home-mom to a four-year-old and a two-and-half-year-old. And let me tell you, I was excited to finally experience the calm, peaceful, and deep sense of just knowing; because certainly it would show up now right?! Wrong. I still had doubts, fears, and many, many moments of seriously questioning everything I thought I knew about myself. Instead of thinking about the lack of time we spent together eating as a family, I now questioned our decision to not enroll our kids in a preschool program. Instead of worrying about missing every milestone while they were at daycare, I now wondered if my approach to parenting was going to create tiny monsters that would grow into self-absorbed adults. I realized I was back in the old, familiar place of questioning my every move instead of giving my mom instinct space to be heard.

Finally, I understood; there is no answer, there is no *right* way to raise my children. I don’t have to pick and pull and patch together pieces to create the mom I am supposed to be. There is no such thing. As long as I am present and show up with love, apologize when I make mistakes, and continue to reflect and grow from each day, I am the most true version of myself. And THAT is the mom that my kids want.

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Katie is a recent East Coast transplant from Maine, where she was born and raised. While trying to figure out how to create the life they wanted to live, Katie’s husband, David, was presented with a job opportunity in Portland. They decided to go for it and moved across the country with their two young children. Katie has previously worked as an occupational therapist in an early childhood setting, but with the move was presented with the opportunity to stay home with her kids and she took it! It has been an adventure switching to life as a full time stay-at-home mom to her five-year-old daughter and three-year-old son. She spends her days exploring Portland’s playgrounds and coffee shops, looking for new vegetarian restaurants to check out, and trying to remember that slowing down is a good thing. Since arriving in Portland, she has begun making time for all of the things that have caught her interest over the years: yoga, cooking with local foods, experimenting with sustainable lifestyle choices, writing and getting outside in the always beautiful PNW.