Messages to my Pre-Mummy Self
I’ve only been playing this game of motherhood for six and a half years. I’m really still a rookie. I haven’t quite figured everything out and I have moments when, as the tears well up in my eyes, I wonder if I’m really cut out for this job. Yet I wake up every day and I keep going and sometimes I even think to myself, “I’m kind of getting the hang of this whole Mummy thing.”
I often think of how much I stressed in those early days. I wish I could go back and tell myself, the unsure new mother me, to lighten up a little, not to sweat the small stuff, to live in the moment and to just breathe.
There are so many things I wish I would have known before I had babies. Things beyond diaper changing and sleep training. Things that could have helped me relax a little, worry less, and enjoy more.
There is no right way: It’s overwhelming. Do you breastfeed or bottle feed? Cloth diaper or disposable? Sleep train or not? I made choices and then regretted them. I wondered if maybe I made the wrong choice and maybe my choice would hurt my child. When I couldn’t breastfeed Mr. T. due to his health issues I felt an intense amount of guilt. Every time I took out a bottle I wondered if people around me were judging me. I knew that “breast is best” and I felt like I should explain to people that I didn’t choose to bottle feed him, I had no choice in the matter. Whenever he got sick I wondered if his immune system was weak because I didn’t breastfeed him. I look back now and realize how pointless all that guilt and worry was; there really is no right way to do things. What works for one child might not work for another. The honest to goodness truth is that you have to take the time to determine what works for your family and go with it. Those things may even change as your child grows and your family evolves.
It’s so wonderful but sometimes it’s terrible: I love my kids…I love my kids…I love my kids. Sometimes you can hear me chanting those words locked behind the door of the bathroom after a particularly tough day. My kids sleep peacefully tucked in their beds and I sit in the bathtub wondering how I made it through the day. I wouldn’t trade my life for a million dollars. From the moment they entered my world, my kids have added beauty, joy and laughter to every single day. Yet there are moments, every now and then when it is terrible! Being woken up by an explosion of barf in the middle of the night, fishing poop out of the bathtub or trying to get an overtired toddler into their pj’s is tough enough on the best of days but when you factor in the three hours of sleep you managed to get in, it becomes even harder. I wish I would have known that it’s perfectly acceptable for me to not love every single second of parenthood. I wish someone would have said to me it’s ok to admit that I have bad days sometimes. Motherhood really is beautiful 99% of the time but that 1%, oh that 1% can really put you to the test.
You are good enough: You’ll do it at least once. Be totally honest with yourself, you know you do it. You compare yourself to other mothers. The mother who does amazing crafts with her kids, the mother who plans super fabulous outings every day, the one whose house is always spotless, the stay at home mum, the baby wearing mum and so on and so on. You will watch other mothers and wonder if you measure up. I remember watching the mothers who could breastfeed a baby with no hands and wonder why I struggled so much. Why wasn’t it easy for me? I still look at those calm mothers, who never seem to lose their patience in awe. Moral of the story is that we all feel as though we aren’t good enough all the time. I wish I could have just understood that I was good enough, perfectly imperfect but good enough. I wish I wouldn’t have spent so much time comparing myself to anyone else and realized that I was doing a pretty good job. I should have spent some time at the end of each day and focused on all the ways I made my kids smile.
They will still love you: This is the best part! The house could be a disaster, the laundry may be piled up high and you may look like you haven’t bathed in a week but guess what? Your kids won’t care in the slightest! They just want you. They want your love, your cuddles and your warmth. You could have the most terrible day in the world but when you walk in that door they will come running at you, knocking you over with their hugs. It’s amazing to figure out that you can make mistakes, you can be imperfect and they will still love you. You are their mother. Even when they don’t like you they will always love you.
With each passing day I become more and more comfortable in the type of mother I am. I think back to those early moments when I worried and stressed and I wish I could go back and whisper that it’ll all be ok in the end. I wish I could have recognized earlier that being perfect was not the sign of a fantastic mother. Now, I can sit back and look at my kids are realize that I’m doing ok, but I still have so much to learn and I can’t wait to see where this journey will bring us.