A little backstory before we dive in. I’m not your “Typical” mom, whoever she may be. I did everything conventionally: dated for a couple years, got married, and gave birth to a beautiful baby boy last fall. The only difference is I achieved all of that by my 20th birthday. Many will say that because of my age I have no room to be handing out advice, but on the contrary I believe I’ve learned more about Motherhood in the sense that people are a lot more blunt in their assumptions about my family than they would be if I was say, in my mid 20’s.
When I first announced I was pregnant, it came with lots of emotions. Excitement, nervousness, and fear. If you haven’t yet read my article, Four Things I Wish I Knew About Motherhood Sooner I talk about how I felt I had an obligation to myself to have a perfect pregnancy. It was a hard pill to swallow when that third trimester came along, and I still didn’t feel like I was “good enough.” If you’ve ever carried a child you might know that feeling; “What if I can’t be the Mom that this Child needs as they grow up?” and that’s where our first lesson comes into play.
You are a good-enough Mom. We’ve all had those days where we feel sub-par. Like we scraped by doing the bare minimum and yet we still didn’t do enough. You didn’t get down on the floor and join the imaginary tea party; You didn’t help save the princess from the fire-breathing dinosaurs and Teddy The Terrible Bear; You didn’t cut their fruits and veggies into cute little shapes, and you provided a variety of this weeks left overs for dinner. Obviously: you failed… or at least that’s what you’ve been made to believe.
Remember when you were little, and you could bring the biggest, most mundane problem to your Mom, and she could fix it without a second thought? You could tell her that you can’t be friends with Jessica anymore because She stole your friend Gabby from you, and your Mom would casually suggest, “Why can’t you be friends with both?” and suddenly your problems were gone. Like a magic wand, She always had a solution, no matter how off the wall–or incredibly easy–it may have been.
Your second lesson? You are Her now. Yes, I know you’re older now and the last thing you want to do is be your Mom (those real life issues sure do pop up eventually, don’t they?) But today be the hero to your little one like your Mom was to you. You don’t have to be the most perfect, Pinterest Mom every day, or at all for that fact. Just be the real, genuine you that your Kids need. You are enough.
With that comes number three: don’t be afraid to be YOU. So many Moms that I’ve talked to are constantly comparing themselves to one another: How put together they can look while managing a little one, how much weight they can lose after the baby (and how quickly), and even how “clean” they can eat. Like any or all of those determine how good of a Mom they’re able to be. Newsflash! As I’m typing this I’m sitting in day two pajama pants with a messy bun and unbrushed teeth: and I’m a damn good Mom… and so are you.
Another thing I’ve learned from becoming a Mom is that if you think you’ve successfully made it out of High School: you’re wrong. Aside from constantly comparing themselves to one another, I’ve seen a few Moms fall into the deadly trap of comparing their children. You ever hear of the saying, “not all kids are the same”? its a saying because not only is it true, it’s been proven over and over again. Yet somehow, someway, if you’re not careful you’ll find yourself comparing your little Matthew to little John. it’s natural for you to want your kid to be doing good: I’ve done it with Scott already and he’s only six months old. But if you don’t check yourself constantly, you’re going to start asking yourself, “what’s wrong with my child?” instead of praising their accomplishments that other kids their age may have already done.
Some babies are lazy. Mine for example still won’t hold the bottle for himself if he can persuade you to do it for him. He also has no interest in rolling or trying to crawl, yet he pulls himself up to stand with help from Mom or Dad. His motor skills are advanced for his development, but physically he is lazy. Other babies on the other hand may be completely different. Some babies roll over by three months and don’t start talking until 14 months. It’s all very unpredictable and therefore completely unfair to one child to be compared to another (and yes, that goes for siblings, too.) Number four: Your child is their own person, no matter their age or capabilities.
With development comes milestones, and people will come out of the woodworks to try to tell you how you should or shouldn’t experience them. For example, earlier this year we went on our very first family vacation. After many, many, MANY stops along the way, we finally arrived in Panama City Beach, Florida after roughly 17 hours of being in and out of the car. The amount of people who were concerned with us being in the car that long with a baby was shocking. Like somehow, as his Mother, I wouldn’t make the conscious decisions to take stops every few hours to get out of the car, or make sure his diapers got changed. I’m not sure if the assumptions came because of my age, the fact that I’m a new Mom, or both. But good grief does it get tiring trying to explain yourself to strangers… that is, until you realize number five, which is: You don’t owe anyone an explanation for anything you choose to do with your child. Welcome to that coveted peak in “adulthood” as we used to say. People can ask you any and all questions about your parenting style or decisions and you have every right to look the other way without a second thought. Pretty powerful, huh?
The sixth thing I’ve learned along the way, is that people are very opinionated. “Well yeah, we all are to an extent.” No, I’m talking about pure unsolicited advice, comments, suggestions, tips, gifts, and other things that I’d like to light on fire with my torch. Hear me out. All of those things are completely 100% acceptable under the right circumstances, or of course when asked for. However; if one more person comments on how cold my baby’s feet must be because he lacks socks, I will explode. Do you have socks on, Susan? Are your feet okay? Get outta here. For some reason strangers THRIVE on giving Moms random comments about their children like candy on Halloween. “Wow he sure does have your smile!” Thank you, but also… how long have you been staring at me to figure that out?
With that, strangers love asking questions. We pump our kids with “stranger danger” and “don’t go with someone you don’t know” but for some reason if you’re in the check out lane at the local grocery outlet it’s completely acceptable to give my child their first ever interview. “How old are you? What’s your favorite color? What grade are you in?” (Obviously they’re not asking my 6 month old these questions, but I’ve overheard it dozens of times.) And when you or your child don’t answer their questions? Don’t even get me started on which person in this conversation needs to learn manners.
But, don’t let those questions deter you completely. It was a follow on Instagram and a few casual conversations and awkward, “can I even ask you that?” questions that landed me one of my good Mom-friends who I wouldn’t have met otherwise. Our Boys are 10 days apart, so we’re always going back and forth in celebration when one of the Boys accomplishes something, hoping the other one follows close behind if they haven’t accomplished it already. I know, I just completely flipped my opinion on things: I’m a Mom, I don’t have to explain myself, remember?
Number eight bounces off that with the tried and true fact that all Moms need a Mom-friend. A Woman who doesn’t bat an eye when you explain that you showed up an hour late because you spilled breast milk all over your kitchen floor. A Woman who will fearlessly answer your 6am text asking, “does this poop look normal to you?” photo and all. Not only does she understand your wants and needs as an individual, but as a Mother. She’s there to cheer you on, and remind you of how proud she is of you because she knows just how hard it is. Sometimes, your Mom-friend isn’t a Mom at all, and other times your Mom-friend has children as old as you are. But having someone there for you, willing to listen to your ramblings about your kid, and offer advice only when asked for: priceless.
Another terrifying yet freeing thing I’ve learned? I will never know what I’m doing. Each day you go to bed thinking, “Wow. Today went great, I got little Timmy to go #2 in the toilet. Tomorrow we’ll make so much more progress!” or something of that sort, and then the next day you wake up only to find that little Timmy peed through his night-time pull ups, and refuses to wear big-kid underwear. For a moment you feel completely and overwhelmingly defeated, and then you realize that if being a Mom was easy, everyone would do it. It’s honestly the first bullet point on the job description of Parenthood: For the rest of your life you will never fully know or understand what’s going on, BUT in exchange you get this cute little human who is either just like you or just like your Husband. Tread at your own risk.
And finally: People will leave your life faster than they did at High School Graduation; but people will come into your life just as fast who are 5 times better. If I had to count the amount of people who dropped out of my life after Scott was born, I’d need more hands. At first it seemed unfair, like I was getting punished for having a baby. But as the months have gone by, and I’ve had time to reflect I’ve realized that the only people who lost out are them. It’s not my job to please everyone, (especially seeing that some days I can barely please my kid!) and I don’t have the time, energy, or resources to make sure that grown adults don’t get their feelings hurt.
Sometimes though, it takes a few rotten pieces getting tossed away to make everything brighter. Negativity is a mood-killer, especially in those first weeks were you’re trying to decide if you’re battling with Postpartum Depression or not. People get mad that you don’t want to bring the baby out, or that you’re too tired for visitors. Like somehow because now that you gave birth to a human, you now have to show it off to every single person you’ve ever met within the first two weeks of life: or else. But don’t worry, this gives you time to strengthen your relationships with the people who not only are important, but understand how important those first few weeks are between Mom, Dad, and Baby (and no one else.)
Every day as a Mom brings new challenges, hardships, and knowledge. But I promise you I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I’m constantly learning new things about baby toys, food, products, and even my Son. This list will grow and change over the years, but one thing will always remain true for wherever I am in my Motherhood journey: is that I am good enough.