Let’s chat new moms! There are somewhere around a hundred and one things I wish I had known (or at least heard out of the mouths of other mothers) before I had my babies. And that’s on the low end. Here are some of them:
- To moms who’ve birthed babies: be kind and gentle to yourself and to your body. You will lose hair, your boobs will grow and shrink, and you will be flabby for longer than you want to be. Know you are beautiful because of these things. To adoptive moms: be gentle with yourself too, and seek out other adoptive moms to hang and share stories with. I think my mom would have loved this when I was brought into her world. Transitioning into this new roll can be really hard and really isolating no matter whose belly your sweet pea grew in.
- Make a habit of saying “no thank you” and stay home instead. Don’t for one second feel badly about that.
- Craft a routine that feels good for you and your family and do your best to stick with it – rhythm is calming and restorative. It will probably take you a few years to nail one down though. By that time, you’ll probably have another kiddo, who will without question, throw a wrench in your polished routine and you’ll have to start all over. Maybe join a wine club during this transition? This process will never end as long as you’re raising your babies, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try.
- When you get overwhelmed, stop and breathe. Then sit down on your bed for a minute. Lay there for ten if you have to. Then get up, move your body, and do the next right thing. Baby steps. Motherhood is not a hundred meter dash.
- Give yourself grace and get a babysitter or two lined up already because God knows you’ll need one. Then when you feel comfortable, treat yourself to a few things you did pre-baby that made you happy. Then start going on regular dates with your love.
- Learn to acknowledge your mom guilt – we all have it – and then give it a home somewhere other than your heart or your head. Although it will suggest otherwise, your guilt should not live there. I say “hello” to mine quite often, then go tell it to chill out in my closet. I don’t need it present all the time making my life harder than it already is.
- Try, really try, to take a shower at some point in the day—it will make you feel like superwoman. If you can squeeze one in before your kids wake up, you are literally my hero.
- Double any meal that allows for it and freeze as much as you can. Make use of your crockpot! I swear that thing is God’s gift to moms (that and wine clubs) and my secret weapon.
- Make a cup of hot tea…go on…make it with the fixin’s! This list will still be here waiting for you, along with at least a dozen other chores you should just let be. Okay, now that you’re settled, make a list of things and people that are life-giving and tuck this somewhere safe. Cling to these life-giving things when you feel yourself going to the scary place – I’ve been there – and know that if your toes touch the water of that scary place, it’s very brave and important to tell someone. Talking openly about my postpartum depression with doctors and counselors healed me in ways I didn’t know I needed. Know that your healing may probably take a long time and it will drag you through mud; people may not outwardly know that you are suffering. You will heal. Be proud of your story. Having postpartum depression does not make you a bad mom.
- Know you’re not alone. Not ever. Isn’t it comforting to know that there are millions of women who feel just as you do right now? At this very moment, there are mothers who are just as exhausted and overwhelmed and everything in between as you. They also probably the only ones on the planet that will nod with gentle understanding in the grocery store if they see you wipe your kid’s runny nose with your shirt, and them bribe with a sucker before supper so they sit still in the cart (with a broken buckle) so you can buy food to feed your family. Solidarity moms! Welcome to the club and come as you are. We’re all sisters here.
photo cred: We Are The Parsons