The Beautiful and The Not So Beautiful
I wish both sides were told to first time moms. I walked into motherhood with so many false expectations, starting literally from the moment my son was born. He made his debut in the world at 41 weeks. It’s safe to say the anticipation was high. But when he was delivered, the umbilical cord was around his neck and he was blue. Did anyone tell me this happens everyday? No, they didn’t. All I was told was how important it was for the mother and baby to bond as soon as he/she is delivered and that losing that skin to skin bonding is detrimental.
I did not have that moment with my son. When he was delivered, he was not crying, so they rushed him to the NICU. Everyone left—the doctors, nurses, and even my husband. So I laid there feeling anxious and wondering if we would bond because of our missed opportunity for immediate skin to skin.
Learning What is Important
That was the first disappointment. My expectations were unrealistic because I was not warned about the bad parts. So, I wanted to let other new moms know that just because things do not go as planned, it does not mean that your moment is ruined. Here are the top ten things I wish I knew about motherhood when I became a new mom.
1. Motherhood is Not Easy.
In fact, most days, it’s downright exhausting on every level imaginable. There are more precious moments than there are chaotic moments. But I think it is very important to know, walking into this, that there will be a lot of chaotic moments.
2. Don’t be Afraid to Ask for Help and Accept Help.
Maybe it’s a generational thing, or maybe it’s a trauma response. Whatever the reason, I have noticed that my peers, myself included, rarely ask for help. It is even more rare to accept help when others see that you are treading water. So, ask for the help and take the help! We all need it sometimes.
3. Self-Care is So Important.
Do not neglect your own needs. You may already be using your body as a food source to your baby, and, not to mention, losing sleep night after night. Just know that you cannot be the best version of yourself when you are dying on the inside. Therefore, you cannot be the best mom, either. Don’t just talk about self-care. SCHEDULE IT! Put it on the calendar and share it with your husband or a relative who can keep the little one while you do something for yourself. Having a newborn is not an excuse to have 4-inch roots!
4. You are Gaining a New Purpose, so You May Lose Your Old One.
This will look different for every mom. Whether it was your freedom, job, social events, or traveling, whatever it was that gave you purpose is now going to be replaced with an even greater purpose. Don’t mourn the loss of your life before motherhood- embrace where you are now!
5. Children Want a Parent Who is Present, Not a Parent That is Perfect.
Being there, showing up, holding their hand, reading them off to sleep—these are the things that really matter to a child. As parents, we should be creating comfort, not chaos, in our children’s lives. And nothing hurts worse than an absent parent. I have to remind myself this all the time. My son could care less what I look like, what my house looks like, or what we are doing. He just wants me.
6. Never Judge Other Mothers.
I remember vividly seeing moms in the mall with children on harness leashes when I was a teenager. I would laugh and maybe even question them as a human. It wasn’t until I found my toddler climbing on top of the produce at Publix that it clicked for me. I could have used a leash that day, for sure! Nothing like toddler toes on the fresh fruit, right?
7. This Too Shall Pass.
They will not stay in the infant or toddler stage forever. Truth be told, one day you will realize why everyone says it goes by so fast. When I am overwhelmed with the current season of my life, I remind myself of the times I was overwhelmed in the season before. So far I have been 100 percent successful in overcoming all of my worst days.
8. The Right Daycare is Very Important. . .
…and you better get on that waiting list the day you consider having children, because the best schools are years out from accepting new babies. Early childhood development is the most important. So, choosing the right school with a staff that will help mold your child’s brain while keeping them safe is second to none. I, personally, found this out the hard way.
9. Do Not Compare Your Child’s Milestones with His/Her Peers.
All babies grow and progress at a different pace. So, stop listening to what your in-laws say. Stop seeing other babies walking before yours and wondering if there is a problem. Unless you see something major or your pediatrician is concerned, it doesn’t matter that Barb-down-the-street’s grandchild walked at three months old. (Nice try, Barb!)
10. Do Not Lose Yourself.
Things are going to change drastically. Friday night martinis with the girls may have to be cancelled due to an impromptu tea party Saturday morning at 8:00 a.m. sharp. Things will be changing for you at a rapid pace, so it’s important that you don’t lose yourself in the process. There will always be rain checks for martinis with the girls, but tea parties only last so long.
I hope this helps you on your journey to motherhood.
Is it hard? YES!
Is it worth it? Absolutely!