In honor of Mother’s Day, I thought I’d share some reflections on being a mom and maybe a few things I wish I knew beforehand. As I look across the table at my 6’4″ teenager who will be off to college in about a year and my graduating 8th grade son and high school step-daughter, I’m amazed by how much life has changed in the last few years.
It seems like just yesterday, I was “that mother-to-be” calling my doctor at 4am after 10 hours of contractions, swearing to him that the baby is coming any minute and of course my contractions are 5 minutes apart! Fast forward 12 hours later and we finally welcomed our rolly, polly son into the world. In an instant my whole world changed… it became scarier, more complicated, more responsibility-filled, and so much better than I imagined!
- You’ll Feel Utterly Unprepared. There will be that moment when you leave the hospital when you look down at this new little baby and have a moment of panic! You’ll question whether the sanity of the nurses and doctors at the hospital that let you leave with this baby when you obviously know so little about taking care of an infant! Take a moment and breathe… it’s scary but you’ve got this and you already know more than you think you do and the rest you’ll have 18 years to figure it out.
- You’ll Make Mistakes. No matter how many books you read, other moms you talk to, blogs you follow or apps you use, you’re going to make mistakes. You will not be a perfect mom and guess what, that’s okay! You’ll get the bottle too hot, you’ll put the diaper on wrong causing a flood of catastrophic proportions in the crib at 2am, you’ll say the wrong things to your hormonal teenager, and you’ll definitely embarrass your 13-year-old on a regular basis. It’s okay, trust me. Your kids won’t expect you to be perfect and they’ll love you anyway.
- You’ll Finally Know What Unconditional Love Is. No matter how much you think you love your own mom, your husband, your boyfriend, your nieces or nephews, you can’t imagine the kind of love you’ll feel for your child. The second you meet him, your world changes. You instantly know you’ll do anything in your power to make him feel safe and happy and loved. You’d jump in front of a bus to save him without blinking an eye.
- Motherhood is Messy. You will constantly be covered in body fluids, food, formula or some other substance and it will seem normal. If someone told you all the things you’ll spot clean from your work shirts, wash out of your hair or yes, catch in your hands, you would never believe it. Congratulations, your new found motherhood superpowers will have you wiping spit-up with one hand, while prepping a bottle in the other and you’ll be okay with it.
- Trust Your Instincts. First, rule do not enter “is this normal?” in to google or enter any symptoms in to WebMD. This usually leads down a long, dark path of what ifs. When you have questions, reach out to another mom friend, your mom, the pediatrician, but above all, trust yourself. You know more than you think you do. I remember insisting my son’s leg was broken despite what the urgent care staff was telling me. After being sent home for the night, it still didn’t sit right. That little voice told me I needed to call again. After a phone call to his primary pediatrician and a referral out and a reread of the x-ray, his leg was in fact broken. Moral of the story, trust yourself. You’ve got this!
- Find Your Girl Tribe. Despite all your best efforts, your life is going to change. As soon as you get this whole newborn thing figured out, your baby is a toddler. And in the blink of an eye, they’re a teenager driving on their own. Find your tribe. Surround yourself with other women who remember you before you were a mom, other moms with children the same age, and maybe a few experts with books, blogs or apps you love who might not ever know they’re part of your tribe. Equip yourself with knowledge and strength when things don’t go according to plan or when you just need a boost.
- Keep Some Pre-Mom Hobbies.You will love your baby so much and be so wrapped up in all the things it takes to feed and care for a new baby, that you’ll feel like you don’t have time for all the hobbies you did before you became a mom and honestly you’ll be so in love with your new baby you won’t feel like you need them. Don’t let them go! While you may not be able to keep all your hobbies, pick one that makes you feel the best or that’s most important to you and hang on tight. Find ways to squeeze in that run, read that book, bake those cookies, whatever! Motherhood is an adjustment and hanging on to a little piece of yourself will help you weather that ever-changing storm.
- Time Goes By Fast. It’s cliché, but it’s true. In the first few days, you’ll feel completely overwhelmed by the days between feedings, middle of the night wake-ups, and balancing all your new mommy duties. Soak it in! Even the difficult days. Time will go by faster than you can imagine. You’ll blink and a year will go by, then five then suddenly your baby will be applying to colleges. Believe it or not, some day you’ll miss those naptime routines or those endless wagon rides around the neighborhood. A friend once told me that her favorite stage was the one her child was in, until they hit the next one. Then she was convinced that was her favorite stage. She told me that it helped her remember to enjoy each phase but to rush each on and not to be sad when her babies entered the next phase because she always found something she loved about that stage too. Enjoy each moment.