So, I’m five years and two kids into motherhood. That’s far enough removed from new motherhood to have learned a thing or two, but close enough to still feel like it was just yesterday I was hit with the enormity of becoming someone’s mommy.
Here are some things I liked you to know as you begin your own journey into motherhood.
Perfection is not the goal.
My mother was a teacher who always dressed nicely with perfectly applied makeup, kept a clean house, cooked every day (except on weekends when we ate out), and made sure her children had a better life than she did.
I pictured myself being a mother like her, which of course did not happen. The start of motherhood for me was full of a lot of jarring life changes, including the loss of my father before my son was born, which left me unable to live up to the standards I had set for myself. It wasn’t until someone pointed out to me how happy and healthy my son was playing in the middle of my junky living room, that I began to experience a change in mindset.
It’s so easy to compare ourselves to other mothers. Even our own. What I learned to keep in mind is that we only see a portion of someone’s seemingly perfect life through social media or “reality shows.” We are not our mothers, nor our babies are us, and fictional mothers are just that, fiction. Our babies don’t care if we look like a walking disaster or make their baby food from organic fruits and vegetables; they just need to feel safe and taken care of.
Don’t make it harder than it has to be.
As I mentioned, my first year of motherhood was rough, and watching my infant son stain and rapidly outgrow his clothes and baby gear made me aspire to new levels of practicality. I began shopping consignment shops and sales to save money and welcomed the boon that is hand-me-downs. Anything that was salvageable after he outgrew it would be either consigned for some extra money or donated to reduce clutter; some items even made their way down to his sister.
This practicality spread to other areas of parenting. If something seemed to take too much time and effort, I began evaluating its necessity. For me, it means choosing to cut short on chores or errands to attend to the needs of the little humans that don’t even know what dish detergent or Target is. It also means postponing, changing up, or getting rid of traditions as our children grow.
There’s so much that is supposedly essential to a happy childhood, like big birthday parties, the Tooth Fairy or Santa Clause, toys, toys, and more toys. The fact is that babies and toddlers do not care about any of that. So why stress yourself about it? Enjoy your child while they are this little before their wants outgrow their needs.
You still matter.
One time my coworker made plans for lunch with her daughter and new grandbaby. When they arrived in the lobby of where we worked, a few of us from the department came out to see them. Later, my coworker pointed out to me that I was the only person that greeted her daughter and asked her how she was doing.
Mama, your need for adult interactions, hobbies, work, bathroom time alone, etc. does not suddenly go away because you’re now elbow-deep in soiled onesies. You’re going to get a lot of messaging that virtually has you martyring yourself to motherhood. Don’t be afraid to speak up when you need a break or some extra hands. Any good parent knows that this isn’t a one-person job and that your baby needs you at your best.
When it came to wanting to become a mother, I thought I was prepared with the most realistic expectations. Being a new mom was nothing like what I expected, but once I figured out what really mattered, it became less daunting. I’m still trying to figure things out as my kids keep growing and changing. However, I’m growing and changing with them for the better.
The Not-So-New Mommy of Two