Not that I’m an expert or anything. By any means.
It’s just that I’ve been thinking about this a lot, and I want to get my thoughts out there. And because I think it’s refreshing to read stuff like this from first-time moms. Out of all of the advice-based-on-experience posts about being a mom, I have seldom read posts from moms of only a few months.
And, to be honest, I will probably need to be reminded of this next time around. Some of these apply to being a first-time mom in general and then some of these are more specifically for being a mom of a newborn.
So, for what it’s worth, here are some reflections:
1. Being a mom is hard work. Seriously. Whether it’s to one, two, three, four, five, or ten children. Being a mom is hard. Let yourself believe that. It might feel easy sometimes. But a really hard season is likely to follow an easy season. So enjoy those easy seasons. Don’t you dare feel guilty or like you aren’t doing much. You are keeping a human being alive. Case closed. (Because, to be honest, especially towards the beginning when it was pretty easy, I felt a little guilty for calling it my “job”. But seriously. It’s not like you are getting paid, either.)
2. Being a mom is one of the greatest privileges of all time. On the hard days, just remember how much you longed to finally see that positive sign on the pregnancy test. Or if it was a surprise, remember how excited you were when you found out. Or if neither of those apply because you actually weren’t planning on being a mom at that particular time…well, let me let you in on a little secret: being a mom is awesome. (And all the mamas said, AMEN!) Everything we consider good has ups and downs (friendship, family, marriage, the best job you have ever had, etc.). That’s just how life is.
3. Give yourself some grace. A LOT of it. And really, when I say that I really mean receive God’s grace. Like I said, being a mom is no walk in the park. Especially for the newborn stage, don’t have high expectations for yourself. It took me about 12 weeks (not six, which is what they say the typical postpartum recovery time is) to feel like my body was at least some semblance of “normal”. And, right now, nobody is expecting you to do anything but take care of your baby. I promise you that if you expect yourself to accomplish anything outside of that for the first few months then you have more expectations on yourself than anyone else does. —–A sub-point to go with #3, something that helped me was that I set the expectation that I wouldn’t cook for a month. Even if I felt up for it a few weeks after, I wouldn’t let myself. And I don’t regret that one bit!
4. Don’t compare yourself to more experienced moms. Like, moms of a kid/kids of two or three years and up. The ones who have a menu plan for the week and wake up at the crack of dawn and don’t stop until late that night without sneaking in a nap. The ones who do laundry and dishes every single day and are involved in extra-curricular activities with their kids. Those moms. Just don’t compare yourself to them. It’s not fair (to them or to you), and it’s not worth it. You deserve more credit than you are giving yourself when you look at them and think you need to step up your game.
5. Don’t compare yourself to any mom or your baby to anyone else’s baby. Generally, not comparing is a good rule of thumb ;). Your capacity is different from another’s capacity. And for certain, your baby is different from other babies.
6. There comes a point when its time to put the books down and go with your gut. You deserve more credit than you give yourself. Even though you have only been a mom for a few months or a few weeks or even a few days, and though you might feel like you don’t know what you are doing, you still have God-given maternal instincts. Use them! The most important thing to do (especially in those first few weeks) is to just love the tar out of that baby.
7. Do ask for help. The books can be good. And though I have those maternal instincts, I still would feel completely lost without a few key moms I can text whenever I have questions, no matter how silly they sound. I’m still trying to strike a balance between listening to advice and going with my gut (because recently I realized I have relied on advice instead of my instincts a little too much in a particular area). But praise the Lord for godly community and for moms who have BEEN THERE, DONE THAT! I love being able to text someone (or walk across the street to Sarah’s) about Arden’s napping woes and have them relate and tell me what helped them or simply give me hope that this is merely a season.
8. Repeat after me: this too shall pass. When the advice doesn’t work and the books don’t have the answers you are looking for… take a deep breath and remind yourself of this truth. Babies change so much. Sometimes even from day to day. A few bad, sleepless and fussy days feel like an eternity. But after it’s over you’ll see that it was just a season.
9. Naps are not evil. Sleep-deprivation is. So take a nap if you need one. Don’t work yourself into the ground because you think you are always supposed to use baby’s nap time for getting stuff done.
10. Resolve what your values are as a mom and stick to them. I’ve just had to decide that I’m done trying to value aspiring to be an awesome, all-natural, super-healthy Pinterest-worthy mom. It’s just not worth the time, effort and money to me to put that at the top of my priority list. Because if I’m not careful I start valuing that over Arden being happy, healthy and thriving.
11. Embrace routine but don’t build your life on it. Maybe it is just my personality, but even starting week two I needed some semblance of routine. Even if “routine” meant reading a Psalm sometime in the morning-ish hours, taking a nap in the afternoon and putting Arden in pajamas before putting Arden to sleep sometime after the sun went down. Now, my routine is a little more established. But there are still days when the routine or plan I had for the day has had to go out the window.
12. Soak it in. All the cuddles. All the smiles. All the sweet family times. Take a gazillion pictures and fill up your friends Instagram feeds with pictures of your lovely baby (well, at least that’s what I do). You will not look back and wish that you cooked more at home or kept up with the housework more in those first few months. But you might look back and wish you had savored the cuddles more.
(for the record, as I made this list I was kind of talking to myself. Some of this I really need to hear right now…)
Anyone have anything to add to this list?