The advice I would give myself as a new mom, now after 10 years of parenting.
This Mother’s Day seems more significant than in years past, as our family gets ready to welcome a new baby in the fall. This will be my last Mother’s Day as a mom of two girls and will be the last one for a little while where I can actually kick back and relax.
I’m not sure if it’s the pregnancy hormones or all the memories that keep coming up, but I’m feeling extremely sentimental about it all and it’s making me reflect on the past decade I’ve spent as a mom. Truthfully, looking back and reflecting on the past isn’t something I do much of. I’m much more of an onward and upward kind of person and don’t place great emphasis on holding onto the past.
Motherhood is such a blur that the opportunity to look back is often missed, whether you’re the kind of person who likes to reflect or not. The first few years are often spent trying to survive the chaos of infanthood and toddler mania. What little quiet time you do have is likely spent catching up on sleep, not absorbing the lessons learned from the dramatic changes in your life.
But I’m now in the fairly unique position of having a decade of experience under my belt while getting ready to welcome a new baby. And I’m taking the time this Mother’s Day to think about all of the advice I would offer to a younger much more naive version of myself, as I entered into this world of love, disorder and utter exhaustion.
It’s Not All Bad
I should mention that as first time parents go, I was fairly relaxed. Maybe it was instinct or the fact that I’d spent years working in a drop-off daycare at a fitness centre, but it wasn’t entirely overwhelming. I spent the first few weeks waiting for motherhood to become as difficult as everyone said it was, and I was surprised to find that all of the stories and warnings had me expecting something far worse than it really was. While I think it’s valuable to warn new parents of what lays ahead, I also think it can be too much! They should have realistic expectations but also be able to enjoy those first few magical months with their baby.
Having a Bad Parenting Day Doesn’t Make You A Bad Parent
We’ve all been there. Said things, or done things that make us stop in our tracks with shame.
Our kids have pushed us to that point and we’ve crossed the line into crap parenting territory. It’s different for everyone, but for me that would be losing my mind and screaming at my kids, sometimes with swear words in the mix. It does happen on occasion and when it first happened I beat myself up over it for days. I felt like the worst parent in the world. And you know what? I held onto that moment for a lot longer than my kids did. I do my best not to let it happen but when it does I apologize and we move on. Making mistakes is part of motherhood and no matter how many you make, it doesn’t qualify you as a terrible parent.
Seriously Let The Little Things GO!
So what if your kid only ate one vegetable today or if a grandparent let them try pop before you wanted them to? Let. It. Go. You likely have too much on your plate already and can’t control everything in your life or theirs. There are going to be days when shit hits the fan and if it means they eat fast food twice in a day, or that something happens that you’re uncomfortable with, you need to learn to let it go. I can’t tell you the number of hours I’ve spent stressing over family issues, meal prep, behaviour etc. And honestly it doesn’t help anyone.
Talk about it. Deal with it and then move the f*&k on.
You Don’t Know Everything The Second Time Around
Be prepared for things to be different. I found my second forage into the newborn stage much more difficult because my needs came after a newborn and a toddlers. Making it almost impossible to take care of myself in any sort of way. I struggled for those first few months and still do with balancing both of their needs along with my own. It’s also valuable to consider that each baby or child is different and the things that work with one, may turn into a disaster with the second.
You Will Have Good Years and Bad
I don’t mean to say your child will behave perfectly one year and not the next. But rather you’ll prefer different ages over others and that’s ok! I personally love the baby stage and from 0 – 18 months seem to have almost endless patience (almost). The midnight cries of a baby don’t bother me nearly as much as my 7 year old waking up in the night. It’s ok if you say to yourself this stage isn’t my favourite, because I assure you they will enter another short lived stage that you’ll find more enjoyable.
You Will Miss Being Needed So Much
This one is a blessing and a curse. Of course it’s amazing not to be needed every minute of every day for someone else’s survival and entertainment. But it’s also heartbreaking when you realize that they are growing up into independent people and one day soon may not need you for much more than a drive, cash for the mall and the food in your fridge.
Take As Many Videos As You Can And Store Them!
This is so much easier now than it was when I had my first daughter, which was before the iPhone was in everyone’s hands. I have only a few videos of my girls as infants and toddlers, saved to Facebook, and believe me I watch them often. The sound of their little voices is something I miss terribly and those videos bring it all back with a tidal wave of emotions. Photos are great, but videos definitely help capture those moments in a way that you’ll want to revisit time and time again.
This Mother’s Day, I hope you have a magical day with your babies, no matter how big they are.