I think the only thing that is more exciting than having a baby is when your baby has a baby. It’s like a double celebration. You’re excited about that new little baby who’s on the way and you’re excited about the excitement your own baby is feeling about that new little baby who’s on the way. (Have I said the word “exciting” enough?). Of course, it brings back a flood of memories from when I was pregnant and giving birth but at the same time, I’m fortunate enough to be on hand as my daughter and son-in-law make these memories for themselves. One of the things I’ve been reflecting on lately is all those decisions you have to make as a parent, even starting well before the baby is born. So with that in mind, here is some advice for my daughter as she becomes a mother:
1. Don’t let other moms – or anyone – bully you and make you feel guilty about the choices you have made as a parent.
You will be given lots of unsolicited advice. Or blatant judgement. You can choose to smile, nod, and ignore it. You can choose to ask questions and take it under consideration. You can even tell the person giving the advice to mind their own business. Yes, even if that person is me.
2. Trust your instincts – do your research and trust your instincts but ask for help if you need it.
It’s not a sign of being a bad mom. It’s a sign of being a good mom who wants the best for their child.
3. Take time for yourself.
You can’t grow a great kid unless you’re growing yourself at the same time. Carve out time each day for yourself. Not yourself as a mom, but yourself as you – read a book that’s not related to raising children, have an adult conversation that doesn’t include talking about the kids, “waste time” binge watching something on Netflix instead of doing the laundry. Whatever it is that sparks joy for you – besides your baby – keep enjoying it even if on a really scaled back level. This is huge when it comes to that whole sane mom thing. And if you just need to get out of the house for the afternoon or go away with your husband for a weekend, no mommy guilt needs to tag along.
4. Don’t obsess over the rules.
Let them cry it out. Or pick them up every time they do. Make them finish their dinner. Or let them skip the spinach. Perfectly productive adults have come from kids whose parents made mistakes. Aka all of us.
5. Enjoy every moment you can.
But don’t feel guilty over the ones that are less than enjoyable. You’re not going to make every single moment of your child’s life a magical Disney World kind of moment. It’s simply not possible. In my personal opinion, it’s also not healthy. One day, real life will set in and your child may have a rude awakening. Not only that, but there IS magic in those little everyday moments. Snuggling in the rocking chair while reading a bedtime story. Hearing that little giggle erupt in the midst of a rousing game of peekaboo. Playing together with their favourite toys. These are the moments that really count. And about those inevitable days so stressful and awful that you’d just rather forget them? Do just that. Forget them. Let them go. Tomorrow is a new day and for the most part, kids are just as ready for a fresh start as you are. You haven’t ruined them. Talk it over, say you’re sorry, give them a big hug, and move on. That in itself is a valuable lesson for them in how to handle making a mistake.
You are going to be a great mom. I have no doubt about it. But when you are doubting yourself (and you will – it’s a normal part of motherhood), just remember that you aren’t alone. Reach out to someone who loves you. You have a whole team behind you when you need them.
Mom (soon to be Meemaw)