This week I had the pleasure of visiting a friend with a brand new adorable, loveable newborn baby. I also had the opportunity to be a part of a conversation with a soon-to-be first time mom who was asking for more seasoned moms to list their ‘baby must haves’ and ‘don’t waste your money’ items. And it got me to thinking. If we’re going to support each other as moms in this great adventure called life, then we should have a few key tips. Little words of wisdom we can share in a loving and non-judgemental way.
What would life look like, and how would things change if every mom you know gave you her two favorite tips. Tips from me would probably be: 1. Motherhood is hard, but SO worth it. And everything is temporary. 2. Trust your instincts, you know your child intimately, and only YOU know what they need. Don’t let anyone ever make you feel guilty for meeting your child’s needs.
See, no one tells you how hard motherhood is. It’s a 24/7/365 type job. Even if you are lucky, and have kids who go to sleep at 7 PM and sleep until 7 AM (FYI, this has never happened in my house), when they go to bed there is laundry to do and dishes to wash and toys to pick up. Motherhood is not punching a time clock and tracking your progress in spreadsheets. There’s no end of the quarter bonus if you keep the kids clean and well fed either. Your reward comes in giggles, smiles, somewhat slobbery kisses, and eventually the super sweet, ‘I wub eewww!’
The other thing I’ve learned is that everyone thinks they’re an expert on motherhood. I have friends who make choices that differ from mine, and that’s ok. If you trust your instincts and make informed decision on parenthood, that’s all you can do. Not every choice is right for every family. I also just can’t imagine that people can have information that will help them make the best decision for their family and child, and then choose to do something that is not what is best. Does that make sense?
I can’t imagine a mom, doing research and learning about car seats, and the risks of forward facing vs. benefits of rear facing and then chooses to turn a 6 month old forward facing (yes, I saw a mom at my daughter’s school with her 6 month old forward facing in a car seat, and I nearly fell over). It just doesn’t compute to me. Yes, I know there are people who will fall into that minority, but until you prove to me that you truly don’t care about your child’s well being, I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt. I will trust that the vast majority of moms (and parents in general) are doing what they think is best, based on the information that they have.
So while I would love to tell every mom that brestfeeding has been such an amazing gift for me to give to my children, (not to mention the benefits for me) and co-sleeping has made it SO much easier for me to deal with my kids’ night waking. I also know that I have found potty training to be a very simple and child guided process by getting them used to the potty from 12 or 13 months, and letting them know it was there when they were ready. I believe that it is my job to meet my children’s needs whenever they need me (even if it is 3 AM). I know that every situation is different, every child is different, and every family is different. That’s why my 2 pieces of advice are to remember that ‘this too shall pass’ and to trust your instincts.