I always felt like a novice, honestly. But as I stood in my kitchen today washing my hands franticly (after wiping the booger-riddled face of my poor sick toddler) so that I could quickly tend to my antsy 5 month old, I actually felt like I had my shit together.
It’s funny how some of the toughest trials of motherhood tend to be the ones that show us just how awesome and put together we really are. (Seriously, you’re doing a f***ing awesome job.)
Now my ‘mom moment’ didn’t happen overnight by any means. As the title says, it took me almost three years (and two kids) . I’ve lived in the just-for-now apartment with the ridiculously small kitchen. I’ve wiped my fair share of snot, poop, and god knows what else off me and my children…and Shawn. I’ve survived on less than 2 hours of sleep numerous times. (I assure you, being a parent is a true test of your sanity.) But I’ve also given and received thousands of hugs and kisses. I’ve heard “mommmmmmmm” called repeatedly because I’m the only one in the world she wants, and I’ve learned some of the most valuable lessons of my life from a child. The good by far outweighs the less desirable, as I’m sure you’ve been told.
Through all the trials and tribulations of being a mom, your child(ren) become your number one priority. That of course leads to reading the endless myriad of articles on parenting: parenting techniques, vaccinations, what foods to feed them, how to dress them, if they should watch TV or not, wooden vs. plastic toys, cloth diapering, amber necklaces, breastmilk vs. formula, and on and on. I thoroughly believe that we live in a society that has lead us to believe our gut instinct cannot be trusted. As a new mom I leaned heavily on an online mommy group for support and answers in my times of need. I surveyed Pinterest for posts on how not to be a helicopter parent, and why I shouldn’t force my child to hug. Don’t get me wrong, that stuff all helped me tremendously. But it was when I actively started participating in my life (instead of just planning and wishing it was a certain way) that I started to feel at home in my skin and confident in my moming skills – yeah, that’s a technical term.
So #1 pieces of advice, don’t try to be the Pinterest mom. It can lead to pinning a million things you want to accomplish and overwhelming yourself, holding yourself to an impossible standard and feeling let down frequently, and just general anxiety from over analyzing every single thing you do. Read with an open mind and form your own opinions. Yes, it is totally acceptable to both cloth diaper AND use disposables – you won’t go to granola hell. Yes, there are times where your gut may tell you yes (like co-sleeping safely in my case) and your doctor will make you feel like a quack. Do your homework, be educated, listen to your doctor, and trust your instincts. It takes time to become comfortable in your mommy shoes, but you brought a human into the world – you can do this.
I think that as moms we need to look at what we think is mundane and realize just how awesome we really are. For example, moments like when I’m walking quickly to grab my daughters water bottle from her room. I swoop down and throw soiled clothes in the hamper, pass my little man a toy to keep him occupied, pick up a few toys and toss them back in the basket for the 5th time, and all in one fowl swoop I’ve done chores while keeping my sick toddler hydrated and my 5 month old content.
#2 piece of advice – appreciate yourself and ALL that you do. As a mom there really is no such thing as an unimportant task. Diapers need to be changed, food needs to be made, dishes done, bills paid, and so on. Some have help with these things, some don’t. Regardless, parenting is difficult. You are raising tiny humans to function in society – that’s a big job! I know I felt like so much of what I did went unnoticed in the first year of being a mom. (I had PPD because I felt trapped, drained, and little like a drone doing mundane things over and over. But that’s another story.) I wish I had been easier on myself and realized that I was doing so much. You’re a superhero, believe it because you already act like it.
I’m sure I could go on and on about what I’ve learned being a mom but in the end what matters most is that you create your own identity as a mother. No article or YouTube video is going to show you how to do it in one easy step. It takes time. Be patient. It’s far too easy to get caught up in the ideals and advice, take it all in but in the end be active in your life and learn from that. Ultimately experience will be your guide.