At 25, I became the mother to a beautiful, healthy, perfect baby girl. Feeling the warmth radiate from her body, inhaling that intoxicating new baby smell, coming to grips with the knowledge that somehow I had created this perfect, pure being – the range of emotions I felt were from incandescently happy to pure panic.
Now entering a new era of parenting with a preschooler and a big kid, nostalgia of my days as a “new mom” seem to be playing on repeat in my head. There are some things I wish I could’ve done differently, or enjoyed more – and some memories I just like to visit in my mind as often as possible.
Here are a few things I would go back and tell the “new mom” me if I were able:
- Take it slow. Coming from a mom on the other side of the infant/baby stage it’s difficult to describe how fast this ride goes. It’s easy to get caught up in growth charts and new developments, always looking for the next big benchmark. Enjoy the time in between by soaking in those everyday moments, of just standing still rather than planning for the next.
- You are enough. The amount of gear that littered almost every corner of my house for a human that was less than ten pounds was almost comical. From baby swings to boppys, there was no shortage of gadgets and gidgets I had the good fortune of having at my disposal to make life with an infant/baby easier. Ultimately, there is no perfect way to diaper, to nurse, no perfect formula or way to put your baby to sleep, but there is only one you and that’s all your baby needs.
- You are doing a great job. Silence the voices of fear and doubt and frustration in your head. You created a person from a single-cell and then brought them into the world. Or if you adopted, the amount of perseverance and tenacity it takes to undergo the adoption process is no easy feat. You. are. doing. great. No one has this all figured out, and by the time you think you do, your baby will be moving onto the next stage. Quit beating yourself up on your self-proclaimed mistakes and inner judgements and accept that you really are amazing.
- Take the help. Accepting help as a new mom can be overwhelming as you want to learn how to integrate raising a tiny human into your life. But you know what? No mom is an island. Do not think that you are pushing your job onto others in your tribe because you need to take a shower or run errands without a tiny person in tow.
- Everything is temporary. Colicky baby? Sleep regression? Trouble latching? It is all temporary. Albeit this advice is the most difficult to take when you are trudging through the quicksand of no sleep and extreme hormones but remembering that this stage is just a moment in time and will one day be just a memory – good or bad – can sometimes help put motherhood in perspective.
Motherhood has been my greatest challenge and biggest joy. The pendulum of parenting swings both ways as it has humbled me and strengthened me in ways I did not know were possible. I am looking forward to what this new stage in parenting has to offer, and continuing to learn on the greatest adventure life has granted to me.