I'm not always an advice giver. Everyone's experience is so vastly different, and it can be hard to give fellow moms advice, even if it is 100% well intentioned. And don't get me started on the flipside, and how hard it can be to TAKE someone else's advice. But I find myself time and again lately remembering and comparing what it was like to be a first time mom and what it is like to be a soon-to-be fifth time mom, and what it was like before I even became a mom. What has changed, what has stayed the same, and most importantly, what advice would I give to first time mom me and pre-kids me if I could go back in time and tell her some of the things I have learned?
First, I would get all the practical advice out of the way, like don't bother with the wipe warmer and I would impart some of the wisdom I have finally learned about how to breastfeed successfully. I would try, and probably fail, at telling first time mom me how fast it will go by. Nobody wants to hear that, but it's true. I would also tell pre-kids me that things might not always go as planned.
I would also tell her that it's okay to hate some of the parts of being a mom. That it's okay to not be in love with every single moment of it. That "failure" is part of the job. That even though you will go on to have more children and will feel like you have finally mastered some aspects of it, you will always be a "new mom".
I would tell myself that there will be days that you climb into bed at night and think, "I did a crappy job at being a mom today". And that's okay. It is what it is. That just as your children are a work in progress, so are you as a mother. I have always loved the quote by Glennon Melton: "Don't let yourself become so concerned with raising a good kid that you forget you already have one", and I think the same rings true for being a mom. Don't beat yourself up for what you think are your failures and lose sight of what makes you a great mom, don't forget where your strengths lie. Throughout this entire experience, there will always be room for improvement, no matter what. Don't let your mistakes and stumbles on the way become an excuse to not give it your all at the next opportunity.
And the thing is, as I've gotten older, I do love it all more. The highs and lows have become easier for me to cope with, mainly because I give myself a break. I don't try for perfection, I try for the best I can do that day. I don't expect my kids to be perfect all the time, so why should I expect that from myself? Especially in a job that, let's face it, most of us have ZERO prior training for. I'm accepting of my mistakes and shortcomings, and the kids can see how I deal with that acceptance and can try to do the same for themselves.
As far as what I would tell pre-kids me about being a mom? HAHAHAHA. I honestly don't even know where I would start. Pre-kids me, that lovable little scamp, I don't know if I would want to scare her off before she embarked on motherhood. Pre-kids me definitely would not have believed I would be expecting baby number FIVE in a matter of weeks. Pre-kids me would never believe that I would be this skilled at not only cleaning up vomit, but would have an arsenal of cleaning tools and tips to make it all go bye bye efficiently. Pre-kids me would NOT have driven a minivan, or would never believe I would use phrases like "Because I said so" and "In this family we wear underwear at the dinner table". Not pants, just UNDERWEAR. That's where my standards are for clothing options at the dinner table, people. A step above nudity gets a pass. I would tell pre-kids me that it's all true, this thing called motherhood will take you over and you will never look back in the same way again and that will be okay. It will change you so fundamentally that you sometimes forget who you actually once were, but that's okay. It's your evolution, and you can just embrace it and go with the flow, because in it's own crazy and chaotic way, it is the most beautiful experience of your life.
So tell me, what do you wish you could tell your pre-kids or new mom self? And from me to you, Happy Mother's Day this weekend, I hope however you choose to spend it, that it is a reminder of what you find beautiful about this crazy experience.