Tuesday, February 4, 2014

A few things I have learned as "mama"

In my short stint so far of being a mama (my most favorite thing that has ever happened to me) here are just a few things I have learned.  Articulating my perspective has been challenging.  Nothing and no one can prepare you for the intensity that comes along with the title of "mom" - the love, the worry, the guilt, the joy, the challenges, the excitement, the fun!


ONE. Don't compare yourself to other moms or your baby to other babies.  Ha, the idea of that sounds nice, but it just isn't realistic.  You WILL occasionally compare yourself and your baby to others.  I remember driving home from a play date with 4 other moms after Andie had a particularly fussy afternoon thinking... oh my gosh, I have a fussy baby - especially because she was screaming her head off as I was driving home.  I even called TL and vented "I don't know what's up with her, she is so fussy".  Then I got home and realized she had a huge messy diaper - that probably had nothing to do with it, but then it hit me . . . that "G" word that inevitably comes along with the title of "mom" . . . guilt.  I felt it so strongly that day.  It's OKAY for my baby to be fussy - we all have bad days.  Why oh why did I even question her?  I apologized profusely to her, but felt guilty the rest of the day for thinking anything could be wrong with her.  Comparison is the thief of joy... so I try very hard not to do it.  And when I catch myself... I remember - all babies are different and 10 years from now this fussy day, or the fact that she doesn't have teeth, or hasn't started walking yet will mean nothing.

TWO.  Okay, okay . . . don't compare.  But have allies.  This mom thing can be totally confusing.  Wait, when do I start solid foods? Baby led what?  Is that necklace your kid is wearing for teething?  Other moms are great friends to have.  They just get it.  These mom friends have been so important for me, along with my own mom who has some sort of magical memory back to when we were babies.  It's okay to ask for advice and having other mom friends to talk with really have made a difference for me.  Lets face it, friends who are not moms do not want to hear details about their pooping habits, how much your kid eats, and how much sleep you got last night.  I try very hard to spare them the details.

THREE.  Take it easy on yourself.  My mom has repeated this to me a few times.  I get very hard on myself when laundry piles up, the closet downstairs doesn't organize itself, my unwashed hair hasn't seen my shoulders in a week, and my car is disgusting.  I worry that I haven't taught her how to clap yet, or think "crap, I don't read to her enough".  Here's the thing I have learned... I can't do it all.  Superwoman probably exists somewhere, but not at this house.  I do what I can and try to remember the perspective from my mom - I am her daughter and she doesn't want her daughter to be distraught because I can't do it all - just like someday I may be telling Andie to take it easy on herself. . . I need to take my own advice now.  Hand baby to TL and take a bath.  Sit alone and scroll through my instagram feed for 10 minutes.  Try not to google every detail of her progress.  Just take it easy and not feel guilty about it.  (See, there's that sneaky "G" word again)

FOUR.  Always give yourself extra time.  You need to be at a friends house with dessert at 6pm?  Leave the house at 5:15.  Even if they only live 5 minutes from your house.  Load the car, pack the diaper bag, oh crap, I forgot a paci, unload baby at the store (because you know this dessert is not homemade if it's comin' from me), make sure you have a toy for the cart, she cries in the aisle, take her out and love on her for a minute, make your way to the dessert section, gosh these carts are heavier than I remember, check out - can't find wallet in huge diaper bag - find it, load car back up, forgot bottle at home, speed back home . . . you get the idea.  This isn't always the case, but I swear, Murphy's law - when I give myself more time, I get there early.  Each time I don't give myself extra time - it's a landslide of extra issues that magically appear.

FIVE.  Write it down.  Your head is not a good place to store dates and ages of milestones.  At Andie's 2 month appointment, I swore I would remember her weight and height forever because I was so excited to see it.  Same thing when she smiled for the first time, and waved, and said "mama".  But here's the thing - I don't.  Write everything down.  You'll refer to it often.  Even a week later when someone asks you "how much was Andie at 6 months?".  The baby books is a brilliant idea and I have made it a priority to stay on top of it as much as possible.

SIX.  Try not to worry so much.  If you're anything like me, worry is your middle name.  I worried so much during my pregnancy about things I couldn't control.  I have eased up so much since Andie was born, but worry is such a huge part of being a mom.  But oh my gosh... there is so much to worry about.  Every article you read, the unsolicited advice you hear from strangers in the grocery store, online, and on tv gives you more reason to worry - about the food you are giving them, whether or not you're able to breastfeed, if they're sleeping well, are you spending enough time with them, teaching them the right things, singing with them enough, reading to them enough . . . you can drive yourself crazy.  I have really learned to trust my gut and take a deep breathe and do my best to not worry.  Which leads me to anther thing I have learned . . .

SEVEN.  You're stronger than you think.  You're a better multi-tasker than you think.  You're funny face is really funny.  You're a comfort.  You're a soother.  You have more patience than you ever realized.  Have confidence in your decisions.  Believe in yourself as a mom. You've got this.  Days of doubt are inevitable.  But remember, you are cut out for this mom stuff.

EIGHT.  This too shall pass.  All too quickly.  The crying in the car, the waking up 50 times during the night, the seemingly endless amount of snot and slobber, the exhaustion at the end of a long day, the giggles at your dancing in the kitchen, the coos and babbles, sitting in ducky during bath time, the feeling of little tiny hands grabbing your legs, the big toothless grin that seriously makes you feel mushy inside, the pride you feel when they do something for the first time, the thrill of being thrown in the air by daddy... the good, the bad, the yucky, the hard, the fun.  It all passes.  And I know, someday, when Andie is an adult, I will look back and wish I could have one more day of her being little.  So for the hard things - I think, this too shall pass.  For the wonderful, beautiful, joyful everyday moments - I think, oh no, this will pass too quickly.

And lastly...

PERSPECTIVE.  Ohhh, this word is so heavy and has played such a huge roll in my first 8 months of being a mother.  Things are not always easy.  There are times of exhaustion, frustration, annoyance, arguing with your spouse... Ugh, please feel free to call me anytime to vent.  I understand, and you're right, being a mom can be a huge test of patience.  I am not in anyway trying to minimize that.  But here's the deal: there are millions of women who would absolutely trade their full nights sleep, quiet trips to Target, and occasional tifs with their spouse to have a fussy baby to hold and comfort.  I have several people in my life who have been trying to conceive a baby, adopt a baby, had several miscarriages, are spending thousands of dollars to have a baby, have a baby that is sick and in the hospital - and the second I open my mouth to complain about it, I try to think about them.  One of my close friends adopted a sweet baby girl a while back after years of unsuccessfully trying to conceive.  She wasn't sure if the adoption would go through or if the birth mom would decide to want her back.  For 6 months, she woke up every night to go in and spend time with that baby, to pray that baby wasn't ever taken from her.  Her story was powerful and it has resonated with me and been a staple of my perspective of being a mother.  I am not saying it's an instant cure to frustration or exhaustion... even when I try to put things into perspective, it's not a magic wand to make it all better.  My messy living room full of toys, my missed happy hours and girls nights, my constant pony tail (because someone likes to pull my hair), not having time for things that used to be so important... it's all a privilege - and if I can do my best to remember that it helps.

This is to be continued... I am learning new things every day.


What have you learned about being a mom?  
I am sure things change as these babies grow and develop. 
This is just my humble opinion from my very short time as "mama".

23 comments:

Carolyn said...

OMG! Every single one of these is SO TRUE!!

Lauren said...

beautiful post...and everything is spot on!

Jenn @ West Sac Honey said...

Good reflection on becoming a mommy! :) Can we please get together!?!

Jessica said...

Love this. Such great and important reminders. I'm such a worrier, especially now that I'm pregnant!

Meghan said...

What a spot on post! And the whole thing about perspective is so true! We had trouble conceiving so every night when Noah wakes up many times I think of the alternative of being well rested but no baby and I would never switch places!

Carol Kyle said...

Tracy, you expressed motherhood so well you brought this 57 year old mother of a now 6'3' young man to tears. Andie is so blessed to have you as her mom !

Bri said...

Glad you think about us who would do ANYTHING for a baby. It makes me so upset to hear moms complain about not having a babysitter or they wish their baby would sleep through the night so they could sleep.

Kristin said...

I love these and needed to be reminded of them today! Perspective is a BIG one!

"B" said...

I love this. Especially the ending. It took me and my husband years and years to finally conceive and have a beautiful daughter. While yes I have bad days, it still hurts when people complain out loud how awful their children are or what a burden. Infertility definately gave me the insight to cherish what God has given us. I pray all those find peace and comfort along their journey to become parents and ultimately become parents themselves!

Megan said...

This post really hits home for me today. As I type this, my almost three month old little guy just fell asleep after nursing, and has been particularly fussy today. My hubby is deployed and our families are in different states, so it's just me right now until December.

I am constantly reminding myself that as tough as this is, I CAN do it, and we WILL survive. He is a great baby and his fussy moments really aren't too frequent. But man, sometimes I just have to put him down and go outside for some fresh air!

Thanks so much for this post. I'll be reading it again.

Jenn @ Bliss to Bean said...

Must be something in the air mama, as I was writing something similar last night, I just haven't hit publish yet. So did AP. Us mamas are TOO hard on ourselves. Our babies are so well taken care of, it's ridiculous. You are doing SO great with Andie. She will turn out to be such a lovely young lady some day. Love this post; I only wish we were closer to hang out and cheer on our niners hehe xox

Novelista Barista said...

i love this! i havent become a mom yet but i will be in 4 months! so it is good to know there are others out there that i can relate to soon!

Olivia Souders said...

I LOVE this post!

Meg Brink said...

Thank you for this, I would love to hear your input on staying at home vs. working as well. I know it's a very tricky topic but I'm trying to make the decision and could use your insight!

J and A said...

This post is so true and honest. Love it. Thank you for sharing. You are a great mom!!

Bailey@Lost&Found said...

This made me cry. Especially #8. My little guy is 3 months today and I have no idea where the time has gone.

Leslee said...

Beautiful review on your new life as a Mommy!

Trust me... It only gets better :-)

Party of Five said...

I love this post. You are an amazing mama. Your little girl is so precious. I can remember my first year.. it was tough and a lot to soak in. Heck, 3 kids later and I'm still soaking in. LOL. One thing I know for sure, is it's not easy being a mother, but it is the most rewarding. I always tell myself this to shall pass. Try my best to keep my head up and not stress over everything. You sound a lot like me, planner! ;)

Kitty and June said...

Beautiful-esp about the perspective. This is the most incredible part of being a mother. It's a gift! :)

Jess said...

I need to work on 1 and 3. Even though I don't try to compare myself or even want to--sometimes I do! Especially right now, when Sawyer is talking and I'm like, "Omg, X can say 5 words and Sawyer only says 3. Is that normal? Am I not reading enough?"

I'm slowly working on letting go and loving my babe for his own development timeline.

Great post, girl!

Carol {Everyday Delights} said...

This was such a good post to read! Obviously I'm not a mom, but I like reading stuff like this and hearing stories/new parent thoughts from other moms to kind of prepare myself for whenever that phase of my life begins. I think that #1 will be the thing I will struggle with the most. Great post!

PhotoPuddle said...

All so true. "This too shall pass" is a very important thing for a mother to remember! I have learned this the most since having my second child.

Anna Keenan said...

This post is perfect, honest, true, comforting and lovely! Being a momma to a fellow 9 month old, I constantly (and, sometimes secretly) struggle with much of what you said. It's a daily learning lesson for both my babe and me, but we are figuring out this thing together and I couldn't be more blessed and grateful that God chose me to be his momma! And, btw, my hair hasn't seen a curling iron in weeks. Constant ponytail mom over here, too :)

Anna
www.bowtiesandballetshoes.blogspot.com