You won’t find the answers in this article about how to sleep train your baby or potty train your toddler. I’m writing about those hidden lessons that you learn as you become a mother that no one warned you about. And I promise you that I don’t have all the answers! Let me share:
It’s so easy to lose yourself.
In the beginning you get so wrapped up in that little one and making sure you are doing what’s best for them. Suddenly you find yourself with three inch roots, eating lunch over the sink and your workout consist of running up the stairs when they wake up crying. These little people become our lives but here’s the secret…. YOU are also living yours. Your life doesn’t have to stop just because you have kids. There is a way that you can co-exist peacefully, somewhere in the middle.
You must find support.
When my oldest kids were very little, we didn’t have family close. And it was very, very hard. While my husband and I relied on each other as a team through that period, I also had an “adoptive grandmother.” When I was at the end of my rope with my two oldest, who were 18 months apart and getting out of the house very little, I reached out to an older lady in my church to ask if she knew of anyone who would be willing to watch kids a few hours at a time during the day in case I needed to get out. And she offered herself. Having her, even if it was only a few hours one day a week helped me immensely. Not only for errand running purposes but also for some sanity. I often joke that older ladies who retire need not get a part-time job, they can make great money being “grandmas for hire.” My point isn’t that you simply need a babysitter, but you need people who you can rely on to help you, especially when there’s no family. This lady was often my emergency contact for school, after my husband and I, simply because I didn’t know who else to put! Find a friend, a neighbor, a church member, someone who can help you when there’s no one else.
Learn to trust yourself.
Everyone has advice for you- your doctor, your mother, your friend and even the lady in the checkout line. And there’s never been a more stressful time to be a mother because there’s seven different articles that conflict on whether or not the “science” supports your decisions or not.
Because OMG what if you are wrong in how you are raising them and they don’t get a good job or end up living in your basement until they’re 30. If you let them eat that Oreo they will probably have Type 2 diabetes by age 20 and if they quit the soccer team at age eight their sports career will be over.
You have to learn to trust your gut. You know your kids and your family. The heck with the rest of them.
It’s all a balancing act.
At first it’s diapers and nap schedules and feedings which leads to pickup/drop offs from school and play dates. And before long it’s soccer practice and sleepovers and then they’re driving. IT HAPPENS THAT FAST. It seems like just when you feel good about parenting, your marriage suffers. Or your career. Something. Everything is not going to go fantastically all at the same time. As a mother, you have to pour your energy into so many different areas that you can’t possibly cover them well simultaneously. You have to just do your best to balance it all. Sometimes that means cereal for supper, not making it to the baseball game or hearing them cry when you leave for a date night.
Enjoy every stage.
This is a big one. No one tells you to stop waiting until you no longer have a baby or a toddler to do this or that. Or you are convinced that when they stop teething or they sleep through the night life will get better. Or after they start school, they’ll be such a fun age. THE FUN IS NOW. Even when they are total nightmares, you must find something to enjoy about the NOW. Even when they’re teenagers and they can’t stand you, enjoy the NOW. Because you cannot wait until ____ to be happy. And it truly goes so fast.
No one is doing it perfectly.
I don’t care if you’re Martha Stewart or Betty Crocker, no one is doing this perfectly. No one knows the “right” answers. Hopefully we’re all just doing our “best.” Generally we all love our children and want them to grow up to be self-sufficient members of society. Don’t worry about the days you take your kids to school in your jammies or when they all get lice or they fail art class. Life isn’t perfect and neither is your family’s.
The hardest part is letting go.
Insert big sobs- you spend so much time doing x,y, z that suddenly your babies are all grown up. And they don’t even need you anymore! Now after all the sacrificing you’ve done, they’ll be gone! It’s such a terrible, awful part of motherhood that no one tells you. But it’s what we’ve been working for all these years. And the love you’ve dumped every day into their buckets will dumped into their spouses buckets and their kids’ buckets and your grandkids’ buckets. The love you gave them freely will be passed from one generation to the next. And that’s beyond amazing. I truly believe Mother Teresa said it best, “If you want to change the world, go home and love your family.”
You’ve got this mama. Take these truths and know that we’re all there at some point. I wish you a wonderful Mother’s Day.
Author Holly Jirovsky
Holly Jirovsky blogs at Style from the Sticks, a blog for real moms just like you. Before becoming a mother, she worked in advertising as a writer and also in the publishing industry. Now she is a work-from-home mom who lives with her husband, four children and dog in rural Iowa.
Style from the Sticks is a combination blog of fashion, home decor and lifestyle/parenting. You can follow her on Facebook here.