What I Wish I Could Tell Myself Before I Became a Mom
In just a few weeks, my big boy will be five years old! In some ways, it feels like just yesterday I was marveling at his sweet, pink, perfect little face in my hospital room in the middle of the night; in others, it feels like a lifetime ago since I became a Mom.
My firstborn and I have a special bond, although one that is not at all uncommon in military life.
Jacob was born while my husband was away. By the time his second birthday rolled around, duty had called our family to be separated for a total of eighteen months. It was just the two of us, then, learning to navigate a brand new life together, and not at all gracefully.
Although many may not understand or stand behind our choices, for my husband and me, making the impossible decision for him to begin his Army career at such a monumental time in our young lives and marriage was our first parenting sacrifice. With the best of intentions, we learned early how painful it is to love a child so much, even before we’d laid our eyes on him, we’d do whatever it takes to provide for him as well as we can.
Even though I tried to put on my best brave face – which probably looked more like a mixture of nausea and panic than anything else – for my husband when he shipped out, now I can honestly say out loud to myself and to the rest of the world: I have never been more terrified in my entire life.
I was afraid of the typical things of first-time motherhood; the pains of labor, the exhaustion, and what it really means to care and provide for a newborn baby.
Could I make it through? Was I prepared enough?
I was afraid of saying goodbye to life as I knew it.
I was afraid of all of the unknowns, and of the huge changes that were coming our way.
I was afraid, by choosing a military life, we’d made a terrible mistake.
Then, suddenly, I found myself in a hospital gown, holding my newborn son in my arms, and, for the first time since my husband left, that grip of fear and panic on my heart released, if only for a moment. Watching the color fill Jacob’s purple cheeks, and feeling the strength of his little fingers as they wrapped themselves tightly around my own, I knew he wasn’t as fragile and weak as I thought he’d be. He was strong, and I would be, too.
We would learn to survive… together. And, that’s just what we did, although at times it seemed just barely.
I used to think being a good Mom was a certain combination of taking the right advice and being successful at all of the right techniques, and I used to the think I’d failed at at least most (if not all of them) every single day.
Looking back, there are so many things I wish I could’ve sat down and shared with the timid twenty-something year-old young woman that was me before I became a mom. But, then again, would she have listened? Probably not! 🙂
Either way, if I had the chance, I would tell her…
Motherhood is about learning to live life all over, again, and see the world from a brand new perspective.
Often, it’s about survival, and taking it one day at a time.
It’s about figuring out how you can best love your children. Every child is different, and what works for one isn’t necessarily going to work for another.
Tune out the voices of the world, and for heaven’s sake, don’t take everything you read on social media to heart.
Learn how to listen to your baby.
Learn how to listen to and trust your own instincts.
Learn to find contentment in whatever circumstances you find yourself in.
Learn as much as you can about your husband, see him as a true partner, and do whatever you need to strengthen your marriage.
Surround yourself with good, supportive women. Build your own community, if you have to.
No matter how many things on the baby registry you buy or how many books you read, there is no way to be fully prepared.
Take a deep breath. You will make plenty of mistakes, but you will also learn a lot from them as you go.
As mothers, it’s up to us to stop second-guessing ourselves, judging, and comparing our lives to others. One woman’s reality is not better than another’s.
Bottom line… there is no such thing as The Perfect Mom, but you are The Perfect Mom for your children.
Although I’ve still got a lifetime of learning ahead of me, I’ve come to believe mothering is all about finding what it means to truly love, give, be humble, make sacrifices, not take ourselves so seriously, forgive, communicate, and care for another life better than our own.