Advice For New Moms From an Old Mom
Motherhood does not come with a manual. Sure there are books you can read and classes you can take, but nothing quite prepares you for being a mother. There is an emotional roller coaster that comes with motherhood any amusement park would envy. Except, you can’t get off of this one. There are questions about nutrition, worries about education, and concerns about, well everything. With that in mind, I am going to let you in on a few secrets I learned in my motherhood journey. Results may vary.
It’s Not Always Enjoyable
Recently, a friend of mine told me a secret, she wasn’t enjoying this whole motherhood thing like she was supposed to. I laughed out loud. She went on to explain that older women kept telling her to enjoy her children. With three little ones under six, she wasn’t enjoying it. In fact, sometimes she downright dreaded it.
In response, I told her my secret, I didn’t always enjoy being a mom. No one does. Who enjoys cleaning up puke, magical exploding diapers, and cleaning up poop finger paint from the wall? (true story!) Sure we enjoy the cuddling and the cute expressions, but the real life every day grossness of being a parent, not so much.
Dealing with a tiny human is hard. They have feelings and opinions, and they aren’t afraid to tell you about them. Children are also expert negotiators. I suppose they are born with it but sometimes I think negotiating with a three-year-old is more challenging than negotiating a million dollar real estate deal.
None of these things are any fun! There will be days you wonder what you have gotten yourself into and consider running off to join the circus.
And it’s okay. Enjoy the good parts, there are a lot of them, but in the really hard parts come, don’t feel guilty if you aren’t all sunshine and roses.
When the nice ladies at church tell you to enjoy motherhood just smile and wave. They didn’t enjoy all of it any more than you are.
You Will Lose Your Identity, and Then Get It Back
Motherhood changes you. Mostly for the good, but anytime change is involved, there is always some pain and angst to go along with it. When you haven’t showered in four days, can’t pee by yourself, and spend more time reading Dr. Suess than anything else, you might start to wonder what happened to you. Where is that professional put together person who read the New York Times every morning?
This is especially true for first-time mothers. Suddenly, you aren’t who you thought you were or wanted to be. Motherhood was supposed to be this fabulous addition to your already fulfilling life. Instead, sleep deprivation and feeding schedules have taken over your life. Coworkers who once looked at you with envy, now do so with pity. Your group of girlfriends doesn’t even bother asking if you want to go out anymore. Yea, the baby thing, well maybe next time.
If you are feeling like you have lost your identity, let me assure you, this is normal. Chances are, as you grow and develop and learn to balance all of the different things that go along with motherhood, you will begin to find a brand new you. A tougher, more resilient, you.
There will be times when you look back on your kid-free days with envy. Just like us old moms look back on our baby days with longing. Remember memory and nostalgia are funny things. They only remember the good, and they forget the bad. When you are longing for your pee-by-yourself days, try and remember the bad, just as much as the good.
Kids WILL Get Hurt
This one is probably the toughest pill to swallow for any mother. Your child will hurt him or herself. I started riding horses when I was about four-years-old and right up until my Mom’s death, she couldn’t stand to watch me ride. It scared the bejesus out of her. And yes I did get hurt.
If you think back to your childhood, you might have some similar experience.
Most of the time it will be a scraped knee or a bruised ego, but sometimes stitches or casts might be in order. This does not make you a horrible mother. The hardest thing for a mother to do is to balance her protective instincts with her child’s desire to explore the world.
Starting from a very young age your child will be determined to investigate the world around them, usually picking the most dangerous things to put their fingers in. The word “NO” will become the most used word in your vocabulary. Yet they will still find ways to injure themselves.
As they get older, it will get scarier. Sports, trips, social pressures – a whole host of things that can hurt your child both mentally and physically. They will get hurt, it’s part of life.
It’s a delicate balance. When my step-daughter went overseas for the first time on a school trip we were all scared to death, but she came back stronger and more confident. We hid our fear and encouraged her to go and explore the world (after researching everything about the trip!) and it was such a huge confidence boost for her. The same was true for my other children’s scary (to me) endeavors.
As much as I wanted to hold their hand and shield them from the world, letting them explore and learn on their own made them much stronger individuals. It’s good for them, but heart-wrenching for us.
The best advice I can give you – learn to act. Learn to hide the fear and encourage your child. Be there with a hug when it doesn’t work out, and help them push forward to come out better on the other side.
Be the Best Mom For YOUR Child
Societal pressures are everywhere for moms. Should you be a crunchy granola mom and never let a bit of non-organic food pass your child’s lips? Should you be playing classical music and reading Shakespeare to your two-year-old? If you don’t will you be crucified by your peers? Will your child suffer irreparable harm?
Your child will develop his or her own talents and desires. If those include Shakespeare and advanced math, great! Encourage them and do what you can to find resources to help them. But if your child is more interested in digging up worms in the backyard or dancing to the latest hip-hop song, that’s okay too. Build a worm farm or take a dancing class with your child.
Your child is a unique little being all their own. You will get to know what is right for your child. Not by society’s standard, but by your own loving standard. Help your child learn and grow in ways that work for them.
Ditch the pressures to do what society says, what your mother-in-law says, and what the ladies at church say. Do what is best for YOUR child, and tell everyone else to go pound salt.
You Will Make Mistakes
And your child will survive. You are not perfect, I am not perfect, your child is not perfect. All of us imperfect beings means sometimes we will goof up. Sometimes we will goof up big time.Your parents weren’t perfect either, yet here you are.
Here is the biggest secret of all – All of the mistakes you think you make aren’t actually mistakes.
Ask your mom or dad what mistakes they think they made and they will probably give you a long list. A list you don’t even consider mistakes. Because as moms, we worry about every little thing, but kids don’t!
Kids are forgiving little creatures who just shrug their shoulders and move on. Just like you did when you were a kid.
If you do make a big mistake, apologize and move on.
Being a mom is hard. It requires 24/7 attention, digs at your guts like nothing you have ever felt before, and scares the bejesus out of you. Motherhood is the biggest job you will ever take on. It is also the most rewarding. There is nothing like being a mom. Just remember, it’s a job, and even great jobs have a few bad parts.