It didn’t come natural to me. Like all the other parts of my life, I am prone to overthinking, over analyzing and generally doing the absolute most. I thought that doing all of the things that they tell you to do – reading the baby books, buying the right things, selecting the right doctors – would make me a great mom. None of that prepared me for this journey. Not the first time and not the second time.
Let me let you in on the secrets to being a great mom:
1. Your kids don’t care about anything but you and they don’t need anything but you – At least at the beginning. No bounce chair or swing you buy is going to come close to being in your arms. No toy or contraption is going to do more to stimulate their senses than you can just by sitting in front of them; No sound machine will ever match the sound of your heartbeat from the inside. They may like those things, but they are no match for mommy.
2. Your babies are so forgiving. They love you so much and desire your love so greatly. Even during times when you’re not being a great mom. They may cry when you yell at them, but they still want YOU to console them. Don’t abuse that trust. Don’t take for granted that forgiveness. Honor it by doing your best to meet them exactly where they are. Honor it by humbling yourself – admitting when you are wrong and by doing better.
3. Forget the myth of Spoiling Your Baby. If you can and so desire to, hold your baby as much as you (and they) want. Cuddle with your baby. Co-Sleep with your baby if that’s your thing. They will never be this small again. And they grow faster than you can remember. Soak it up.
4. Live in the moment. All of the actions you’ve taken became the past the moment they happened. Every chance you missed became the past the moment you missed them. Tomorrow is absolutely not promised.
You have right now – this very second – to be the mother you want to be. Don’t waste it agonizing about what you did or didn’t do when you were pregnant, or in labor, or breastfeeding/formula feeding. It happened already. Do what you need to do for them NOW.
5. Most of All – Love yourself. You know you can’t pour from an empty cup, right? You hear it on social media all the time – self care and self love are in! Take care of yourself, Mama. Take time to yourself Mama.
Look in the mirror and love ALL the phases of your process. If you want to snap back and that’s your self-love, do that! You can love the glory of what your body can do and want to get back to feeling the way you like to. And if you have been waiting all your life to have the bumps and curves you now have, revel in it! You can love your body and not want to change it.
Take the time to do things that you love and understand that you will still be mommy. You don’t relinquish that title because you went and got your nails done. You don’t have to stop playing video games or reading comics because you’re a mom. You don’t have to stop volunteering. You are still you. Wonderfully you. And just like any other major change in your life, it will take adjusting and readjusting to get back in the swing of things. Sometimes it will take transformation. But a Phoenix cannot rise from the ashes if the fire never burns.
My children are young, so I have not even experienced a fraction of Motherhood. I don’t have all the answers. But my views aren’t informed only by my parenthood, but also by my childhood. By my own mother and her mother before her. If I give you nothing else – If I learn no other lessons during my short stint in motherhood – this truth I hold to be relevant and evident: Mama, it’s going to be okay.