The cascade is real.

Here’s what I mean by the cascade: There is so much you will be inundated with when you find yourself pregnant and then suddenly parenting a small being: advice, ideas, strategies, tips, products, solutions. Information. Information. Information. Some of it will be magical for you, some of it will not. The one who gets to separate the magical from the unnecessary is you.

You build your filter.

But here’s the thing: You won’t have gathered the materials to build your fully-functioning filter in the beginning.

True, some of it won’t need building. It’ll be innate; right there in your gut.

But the building blocks for the full development of your filter come the hard way: through bits and bits of hard-earned experience. And since it comes in bits (I promise it will) – it takes time and patience.

While you are waiting for your filter to fully form, the swirl of new-parent information will cascade down right into you and, with no discerning tool to toss unnecessary parts aside, you will begin by holding it all. This feels bloating, like you’re the skin barely holding in sausage. Please know this is normal; not knowing what to do with the cascade has brought us all to our knees in tragic overwhelm at one point or another.

You will survive it, just as we have, and here’s how:

One night, while you are frantically trying all the things to get your baby to sleep, eyes red-rimmed from minutes instead of hours of rest yourself, you discover that one thing works better than the others. One afternoon, when you haven’t eaten a solid meal in centuries, you figure out the perfect trick for getting your little bundle to drink for the first time out of a bottle. One day, you throw all the product reviews away and impulsively grab the unheard-of-generic-brand item – why? – because it’s in front of you at the moment you need it. One early morning, before the sun rises so that you must use a lamp to illuminate your baby’s bum, you realize it is clear of rash; you found the perfect medley of creams and diaper compositions to end the red flare.

And you begin feeling that you’re walking on a somewhat well-grooved path. Except it wasn’t there before you set your own feet on it; you’re the one doing the grooving.

That hard-earned, firsthanded experience – the kind no amount of outside advice can gift you – is coming in bits and bits. It is constructing your filter, that which will let you know what parts of the information overload to listen to and what parts of it, because you don’t have the patience for, time for, interest in, or ability to try, to discard through the wire mesh. It is making you a stronger mother, a stronger person.

Because you simply cannot digest everything; you can only digest some things.

Those “some things” define your parenting and make you a master at your particular flavor of it. There is only one way you do parenting and, lucky for you, that’s your way.

You will not regret watching as the unnecessary glides straight through you – out your ears, out of your head, out of your consciousness, out of your skin. Much more comfy room will be made by its dismissal. You will stand in a confident stance, legs shoulder length apart, and neutrally wave goodbye to it on its way out, not because you hate it or are intimidated by it or fear it, but because you’ve developed the trust in yourself to say you can live – thrive – without it.

You had no idea you could be this strong. You had no idea that the path to this strength would be by way of a 7-pound creature. You had no idea it would come in this form, that your best tool would be filled with holes instead of some big, solid metal instrument as defense.

The cascade is real.

And you are the filter.

Filter on, Mama.