I’ve been a mom for just about 10 years now, and I know less now than I knew when my first child was born. That may sound strange, but it’s true!
For me, it is similar to being a Christian. The longer I am one, the more I realize how much I don’t know and have yet to learn about God.
Even though I am growing and learning constantly, along with that learning there is the realization that there is just so much I am unprepared for when it comes to raising children.
Do you ever feel that way?
As a new mom, I didn’t always care to listen to the things people tried to tell me or give me input about.
I thought I knew everything. I had read all the books and Parents magazines, after all.
And yes, some of this information is actually useful, but there are other, more one-size-fits-all ideas that never really worked out.
There is ONE piece of advice that was absolutely true, though, for all moms, that I wish I had taken to heart. But I’ll get to that in a minute.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed with all the tips and tricks that you hear from fellow moms or read in the OBGYN waiting room or see in your emails, let yourself relax :)
Not all advice is necessary or even fits with your life. Here are some examples of advice that I learned DIDN’T work for me as a new mom.
SOME OF IT WAS UNATTAINABLE:
“Sleep when the baby sleeps.” That didn’t work for this Type-A personality who could think of nothing more than attacking the dishes or catching up on other tasks once the baby was quiet and dreaming. Plus, once you have a second child–that concept goes completely out the door, even if it worked the first time.
SOME OF IT WAS DOWNRIGHT STRANGE:
“If you mix some rice with your breastmilk and feed it to your baby in a bottle, he’ll sleep better at night.” Thankfully I didn’t try this and even more thankfully, my little guy did fairly well at night after the first couple of months!
SOME OF IT WAS JUDGMENTAL:
“Sleep with your baby, otherwise they won’t connect with you. You should have your baby attached to you at all times.” That is an option for some moms, and that’s totally fine! It was the tone in which it was communicated that bothered me. I preferred a more measured approach. One that allowed me to go to the bathroom on my own once in a while ;)
SOME OF IT WAS, MERCIFULLY, COMFORTING:
“Don’t worry, you’re a good mom. Just trust your instincts.” I found encouragement in hearing this from older, more experienced women who had peace about their role as a mom.
But often I just didn’t listen to the advice that was offered to me. Maybe I found it trite or thought it was something that wouldn’t work for our family or perhaps I just didn’t recognize the importance of paying attention to seasoned mothers’ words of wisdom.
And yet, looking back on 10 years of motherhood, there is one piece of advice I wish I had listened to all those years ago….
“THEY GROW UP TOO FAST.”
An older woman, the mom of 7 children, said this to me when I was in the throes of growing our family and had three kids under the age of five. In the middle of late nights, messy diapers, teething tears and potty training, I simply didn’t sit back and enjoy the gifts given to me. I didn’t pause in wonderment of a child so fearfully and wonderfully made, who my husband and I were blessed to raise.
This I neglected to do for our first three children, and it wasn’t until my fourth child was born and I looked over at her oldest brother, who was approaching the age of 8 at the time, and through tears, finally let it sink in that it really was true.
She really was right. They grow up too fast.
Some mothers whose children are now grown and out of the house know that I still have many more years with our firstborn and our other three children at home and they would wisely tell me that I can make up for my lack of listening skills as these next years fly by 🙂
And you know, I think I will try to listen better now.
I think instead of assuming that people are just judging me when they offer advice, I will tune my ear to what they are saying and glean from them the knowledge they are now privileged to have, being in a different place in life.
I hope that rather than focus so hard on my own needs as a woman, that I will look outside of myself and see if there is a new mom who could use some encouragement.
And I’ll strive to give it, not trying to be the person who claims to know everything, but just someone who cares and has done some of the hard things and found her way through, by the grace of God.
And I know that I will try hard, each day from now on, to stop and take joy in things that can seem so ordinary or even uninteresting at times.
I hope and pray this for each one of you, wherever you are in your mothering, because indeed, our children will grow up.
And what a joy it will be then, to have those sweet moments travel with us in our memories, after they’ve grown up too fast.