I remember sitting in church as a newlywed and listening to a woman give a talk about motherhood. She shared a story about her "to do" list and how "painting my toenails" was a reoccurring item on the list because she was always too busy with other things to get that one little thing done. She was unable to fulfill this indulgence, week after week. Being the naive, newlywed I was, I thought she was being a little ridiculous- "How hard is it to paint your toenails?? Seriously?"
Fast forward to today and I now understand her small struggle. It may not have been that she didn't have the time to paint her nails, but that other things have taken priority. I know when I have a trivial thing on my "to do" list that can only be done after bedtime, I often dismiss it. Instead I watch a show with my husband, get some blogging done/read other blogs, or get some chores done. Because at the end of the day, I'm tired and relieved that Gwen is finally asleep! I wish I used my time a little more wisely and practiced drawing or working on ways to advertise my photography. That's something I need to work on. Some moms are great at growing creatively and pursuing their dreams outside of motherhood, and I applaud them. Those women are my heroes and they inspire me.
Right. I had an idea of what it was like to be a mother before actually becoming one, but really, I was naive, as most childless people might be about parenthood. Here are some things I would tell my past self about being a mom:
1. You're not a strict as you think you are.
My past self would think, "Sleep training? Leaving the baby to cry in the crib to fall asleep? Discipline? No problem!! I won't bat an eye!" And then the hypothetical baby was my baby and I had become accustomed to co-sleeping (because its honestly the easiest option for nursing moms). You can ask me about my personal thoughts on sleep training, just not on the internet. Honestly, my thoughts are complicated. And when it comes to discipline- when's the right time to start that? I'm not sure Gwen understands being put in timeout when she misbehaves, but let's not get into that! As you can see, there are things that I wish my future self will tell me about discipline.
2. Don't you dare judge other moms/parents.
I think I learned this one while I was pregnant with Gwen. It all starts when you become pregnant and everyone has different opinions about labor and delivery. I knew that I shouldn't judge other women for choosing to deliver their baby in a different way than me and I definitely shouldn't judge other moms that choose not to breastfeed. Those were the two big "no nos." But it was so easy for me to judge other people's parenting styles. I completely regret thinking this way! I was so harsh. It's such a struggle to raise a human being to the best of your knowledge and ability. Every time I might disagree with a mom I think to myself, "They may not agree with my parenting choices, but I would hate to think that they're judging me for it and/or thinking of ways I could 'improve.'" So I dismiss these thoughts and instead think, "I have no idea what it's like to be this person. I can tell that she is a good mom. There are so many good ways to parent!"
*Related*- Never give another mom unsolicited advice! Seriously! You may be talking with another mom and venting about mom struggles, but unless she specifically asks for your opinion or advice, don't give it. Just listen to her. Also, never do this if you're not even a parent. I cringe at the thought of my past self replying to a couple of moms' Facebook statuses asking for motherly advice. I can only imagine that they rolled their eyes into oblivion. I do not blame them.
3. Be open to changing your mind and accept chaos.
Babies grow and change all the time. It may make your life easier if you're open to changing plans and being flexible, because although we don't like to admit it, our kids are kind of in charge. Not in the sense that we should succumb to their every whim, but that we need to listen to their needs and act accordingly.
(^after Gwen ran away from me)
Thanks for letting me share the things I've learned so far about motherhood! Make sure and check out these other mothers' ideas and thoughts. I can't wait to read everyone's stories :)
Kiana at Glitter & Donuts