Motherhood has never felt natural to me. I wasn’t very good at understanding my babies’ needs or what their cries meant, something that other parents seemed to know without giving it too much thought. ‘She’s just tired,’ they would say. Or: ‘This sound means he’s hungry.’ And I had no idea, and felt like a failure.
Even worse, I didn’t like the feeling of my baby attached to me. I felt ambivalent about nursing her; I didn’t hate it and sometimes I enjoyed it, but I felt burdened by the intensity that raising a child required.
It’s a cliché that parenting is hard but what is even harder is the judgment from other members of society – parents and nonparents alike. When I talked about my experiences in articles and blog posts, one word often came up to describe mothers like me: unnatural.