A letter to myself when I was a new mom.
Dear New Mom Me,
Welcome to Motherhood! The best, most exhausting time of your life.
I wanted to write you a letter from the "other side," knowing now some tips of wisdom I think you should know before the reality of life hits. Things I wish I'd known when I was getting started.
1. Partner with your hubby. Don't make this parenting thing all about you. He's got to be part of the team. Even if you don't have the same ideas about parenting, he needs to be actively involved. Find ways to include him - even if that means pumping and bottling breast milk for him to have a chance to feed baby. This isn't your sole responsibility. Give him the chance to become a Dad.
2. Grow a set of ear filters. Now that you are a mom, you are about to get plastered with opinions and advice - usually unsolicited. This advice will be on just about any topic possible related to parenting, motherhood, your child, your skills, your choices, you yourself. It's best to just smile and nod and walk away instead of absorbing every piece of information that gets thrown at you.
3. Don't let other people bully you into parenting or behaving outside your comfort zone. If you don't want to vaccinate - don't let others talk you into it. If you don't want to breastfeed - don't let others guilt-trip you into it. If you want to co-sleep, try it! If you need to be a working mom in order to be the best mom you can be, don't stay home out of obligation. You need to make choices for yourself - don't let others force you into things you will regret later.
4. It's ok to step away from people who are completely against your choices or constantly feeding you negativity. Sometimes it's better for your relationship to accept that you have different opinions and pull back your relationship for a while in order to preserve that future together. Even if this is family. It's worth it. Limit the interactions. Avoid the hot spot topics. Learn to pass the bean dip.
4. Hold your baby. Cherish his little hugs and smiles and neediness. He's not going to want you to hug him and snuggle him in a few short years. It will go unbelievably fast to the time when hugging isn't cool anymore. And that will make you wish that you'd used every possible moment to hold and hug him when you could. Don't listen to the nay-sayers that tell you that you are going to spoil your child by holding him so much. That's just silly nonsense.
5. Take pictures. Lots of them. Especially of the kids who follow. First born children seem to get lots of pictures of each breathing moment. But the kids who follow tend to get neglected in this area. Make yourself take pictures of them. Tie the camera to your wrist if you have you. You will be sad when you look back and realize how many moments you've missed in their childhood. I'm not talking professional pictures - I'm talking candid shots. Especially of everyday moments. Like when they throw flour all over the kitchen. ...
6. It's ok to feel overwhelmed. It happens even when they are big. This doesn't mean you are failure. It means you are human. And that you CARE. If you need to lock yourself in the bathroom and cry - do it. If you need to go out the front door and scream to let off steam - do it. If you need a break - pass baby off to Dad/Grandma/babysitter, and take that break! It's ok. You are in a high emotionally draining environment.
7. Don't be afraid to ask for help. Don't be a martyr. Don't grow bitter and resentful that you can't ever do anything other than this whole "mom" thing. Ask for help. Ask for a backup team. And then accept it when they offer to help you.
8. Use your hands only for love. If you are angry, force yourself to only use your hands in a loving way. Hugs. Pats on the back. Bear hugs. Don't hit. Don't push. Don't react in an aggressive, physical way. Control the raging instincts of lashing out when you are exhausted and angry and been constantly button pushed. It's HARD. But learn to. This is vital.
9. Pray for the kids. This is the best parenting advice I wish I'd been told. They need you to pray for them daily - and not just in a "GOD HELP ME!" kind of prayer. Pray for their future lives, their future wives, for their decisions, for how to help them, for their relationship with Abba. Pray for the wisdom to make the best decisions for their lifes, for the encouragement to parent them the best He's equipped you to do, for patience on the days where they are pushing your buttons.
10. Realize the time goes fast. I won't say "enjoy every moment" because I think that's completely impractical. But, savour the moments you can. Make the snuggles last a little longer than you normally would. Step away from the computer and be a part of their lives. Remember their laughter, the way their eyes sparkle when they are about to get into mischief, the funny things they say when they are young and can't form all the sounds yet.
And lastly, Believe in yourself. I believe in you. You will be fine. You are a good mom. And your kids love you. Keep it up. <3