Congratulations, honey, on the birth of your first baby! This is what I wish someone would have said to me when I first pushed out little Luke. Take these words to heart. I love you and believe in you.
1). You can do this, and do this well, with grace, humor, and wisdom, and love….even if you doubt yourself a hundred million times, which you might. Which you will. You CAN do this new adventure into foreign territories that shift and move and change, like the weather in Texas. Your tinies and teens will push you to the edge and you will doubt you were chosen to be their mother. But you are. You are smart and capable. You have a heart that holds a magnitude of fierce and loyal love. You have God-given instincts and intuition that will help guide you. You can do this.
2). You will love motherhood and there are days that you won’t and that’s ok because you are HUMAN. And Human Mommies don’t always feel glowy and sunshiny and tolerant of boring tasks and tantrummy kids. You will seek and find and savor the joy moments. And you will endure and persevere through sleepless nights, the stomach flus, homework wars, and the teen years of mood and personality swings.
3). This is what you want your child to say when he/she grows up: I know I was deeply loved and I was secure in my family life. Not that you were perfect, because that actually will screw them up. (No one walks into a therapist’s office and says their parents were perfect without a little disgust and disdain hiding in there a weensy bit.) It is not most important that they grow up athletes or geniuses or valedictorians or accomplished or Harvard grads. That’s just confetti on the cupcakes. What is most important is that they KNOW they were loved by you. Providing stability, consistency, and boundaries create security for your child.
4). Say NO to mommy-guilt. Mommy-guilt is like the other f-word. So just say no. You are enough, you do enough, you love enough, you give enough. You do. You may never sleep enough, but you will recover eventually. Say no to comparison to other mothers and what they do or don’t do, and how they seemingly have it all together and never yell at their kids. No one is a perfect mother. Don’t be fooled by cuteness, or designer jeans, or stunning Christmas cards. No one has a perfect family life. It’s a myth.
5). Make sure you schedule/plan for/budget for/be intentional about date nights and girlfriend time and mommy breaks. You must stay sane, filled up, refreshed and spouse-connected as you raise your littles. It’s imperative. It’s critical. Or you may end up running away with the circus. Or–you may end up using other forms of escape that are not healthy or helpful or lawful. 😉
6). Don’t ever ever be afraid to ask for help. From your spouse, first of all. He signed up to be Dad, in this with you. Assume from the beginning that he will be a hands-on dad and spouse. If you are the mom that does everything for everyone in your family, and constantly accommodate, it is extremely hard to change this 10 years down the road when you want a little hobby, dream, or life outside of the Mom role. Ask your fellow mommy friends for carpools, play-dates, rides to sports practices or games, easy recipes, advice on anything and everything. This requires humility and a reality check that although you are full of awesomeness, you cannot do it alone.
7). We are in this motherhood thing as a collective. No judging other mothers, ever. Try very, very hard to not judge others. No perpetuating the “mommy wars.” Be gracious and accepting of differences in beliefs and practices, schedules, and activities. Everyone is learning, growing, and adapting as they go. Be humble and encouraging, a cheerleader to your fellow moms who are in the trenches. Just like you, they want the best for their child. Every mother counts. Every single one.
8). Practice gratitude. If you get up every morning with your coffee or tea, and journal, “I am grateful for…because…” I guarantee you are setting yourself up for a more positive day and outlook on life. The because part is vital for it pushes you to think through the why of your gratefulness. And thinking is good, because every day you lose brain cells as a mother, and you must fight against it, sweet mama.
And my dear Kate, I will always be here for you. I will be be your number one fan. Always. xo