With every stage of parenting comes new obstacles, but sometimes it’s nice to look back and see just how far you’ve come. Here’s what I wish I could tell the young me on becoming a mother.
You wanted this. You wanted life to grow inside of you even at the young age of twenty-two because you felt it in your bones that the time was right. You heard your son calling, and you said, “I’m here.” As life grew, and people stared because they thought you too young, you didn’t care. And you were braver than you thought you could be because you knew you were made to be a mom.
It’s nice to be surprised by strength, and you’ll find it again and again as you walk this parenting road. But when those doubts creep in, remember a few things along the way to make the road through parenthood a little easier.
1. When your OB GYN treats you with disrespect, when he berates you and makes you feel like a child for having gained 40 pounds (which is normal no matter what he says), you don’t have to sit quietly, and take it. You don’t have to hold in tears until you reach your car to let them out in isolation. Speak your mind. Stand up for yourself. No human being is better than another, and men are not automatically superior because they are men or because they are doctors or even because they think they are. So don’t sit there, and take it. Open your mouth, and use your words. You can do it.
2. When you realize your daughter is colicky, and you wonder how you’ll ever survive without sleep again, know it will all be over in three short months. It sounds like forever, I know, but you’ll make it. And, believe it or not, she will be the most flexible and happy baby after those three months of endless screaming end.
3. When your children decide that binkies are God’s greatest gift to babies, and they long to hold onto them for life? Relax. Who cares what well-meaning people say to you (and they will) about how your children are too old for them? Believe it or not, neither of them are using a binky now. They both managed kindergarten without a binky as well. By age three, they’d given them up for good, and for the record, their teeth are just fine.
4. When other moms roll their eyes at you, let it go. If they need to feel superior over binkies or breast-feeding or any number of mommy war issues, let them. You don’t have to engage in that war some try to keep waging. There are moms out there who want to stand together. You’re going to find some of them a little later. So let the gossipy ones go. They only talk because they’re broken inside. Look the other way, and walk confident in your parenting choices. No one knows your children like you do. Trust yourself.
5. When your children ask you to play, play. When they invite you to be part of a dance party or game of catch, you go. Clean less. Enjoy more. This will be really hard for you because of some ridiculously unattainable standard you’ve set for yourself. But let the floors stay unswept if it means you get to sit in the middle of a beautiful moment with your family you’ll never get back. Leave the cleaning until another day.
6. When you wake up in the middle of the night panicking about how well you’re parenting, go back to bed. You can’t control everything, so quit trying. You’re going to make mistakes, but the good news is that every other parent in this world is making mistakes, too. Parenting is not about perfection. It’s about unconditional love, and you’ve got that one down, so get some sleep.
Believe in yourself. Everything you need has been given to you. You’re not on this journey alone. You have a wonderful husband who also happens to be an amazing father. And no matter what you tell yourself on your worst days, you are a good mom. So stop trying to be perfect, and focus instead on living in the moment. I promise you won’t regret it.
More from Lori about parenting:
Kids and Technology: Balance and Boundaries
Educational Resources for Homeschoolers and Students of All Ages
Why I Homeschool