My husband and I started our parenting journey almost six years ago. As a matter of fact, this time last year, I was approaching my third trimester with my first child! Oh the advice I would give first-time mom Patty! Here are three things I would say to myself across the table at a coffee shop if I could go back in time. But since I can’t go back in time, perhaps I can save you dear mom some trouble.
ASK FOR HELP
Please ASK FOR HELP! If I could, I would go back tell myself:”Stop acting like you’ve got it together!” I can’t tell you how many times, I would hear people say to me: “I don’t know how you do it.” I wish I had been brave enough to say, “I don’t. Can you help me?” I would have included my husband more in the earlier days as well. He wanted to help but I looked and acted like I knew what I was doing. He helped as needed but let me do the heavy lifting of child rearing because I was too stubborn to let him in. That is until I got overwhelmed and had a meltdown in the middle of the night while he slept. That night changed everything and birthed our team parenting approach. It was a hard lesson, but as a result, I began to realize that just because I gave birth to these kids it didn’t mean I instantly upgraded to super-mom model.
THROW AWAY THE BOOKS
Please throw out all of the parenting books! Well, maybe not all of them. The ones that promote a certain rigid system or project a specific end result do not even deserve a place on your dusty shelf. Books about parenting need to be approached like a buffet. Take what looks good and give it a try. If it doesn’t taste good, you don’t have to keep eating it. When reading a book or an article or a blog post…yes even my words, consider who you are and your family dynamic. Does the idea seem like something that could work? Give it a try. If it doesn’t seem like a good fit, don’t try it! I am not the first and I most certainly will not be the last to say this: Children need love and their basic needs met. If you can do this, and I know you can and will, the rest will eventually fall into place. The goal of parenting is to raise responsible, kind and loving adults. I promise you, your child’s college admissions counselor will not care AT ALL if your child slept through the night at 8 weeks.
Breathe and trust yourself. You’ve got this precious momma! You know what’s best. There’s more advice and opinions and methods about parenting than there are people in the world! With all that wisdom and perspective, it could be very easy to become overwhelmed and fearful of making mistakes and choosing the wrong path for your child. Let me set you at ease with these two sentences.
You will make mistakes.
You will raise confident, kind, beautiful children who will love you despite the mistakes you will make.
WHAT TO DO WITH ALL THIS ADVICE?
So how do we reconcile the advice that we receive regarding motherhood with reality? What do you do when the outcome isn’t what you hoped for or expected? Two plus two surely equals four but finding a rhythm might not be as easy as a math equation. I could piece apart each of the posts in this series and tell you how either my children or circumstances have myth busted the majority of my suggestions. Not everything. Those coffee dates are still precious moments alone with my husband!
Parenting has and always will be hard, and although there are some excellent strategies and advice available, we all have to forge our own parenting path. Parents and children come in all different packages. Some kids are by the book while others are not.
I hope these past few months of parenting tips have brought you insight, inspired a few ideas to try out, and perhaps given you success and a little hope. More than anything, however, I hope you leave this series knowing that you are no doubt the BEST person to mother your precious brood. Why? Because you love your children fiercely. If you don’t know the answer, you will search, experiment, cry, pray, and try, try, TRY again until you figure it out. You are in it for the long haul. And that super power, precious momma, is more valuable than all the parenting advice in the world.
You’ve got this brave momma! Go change the world one diaper at a time.
Want to read the entire series? You can start here with the Introduction: Bringing Home Baby, Again