Going through the past seven years of Motherhood has taught me a lot. Let’s be clear though, you never stop learning. And this little advice piece I am writing should have a big ole disclaimer at the bottom stating something like, “read at your own risk. the author is in no way shape or form qualified nor certified to give advice.” But I am doing it anyway. Mostly because I wish I could have told all of these things to my former self, but also partly because maybe someone out there needs to hear it. And a little bit because I still need to hear it almost daily.
I’m the oldest of 5 kids and a total type-a control freak, so when I started having kids, I was in for a big surprise.
First of all, they aren’t very easy to “control”. You literally give up every shred of control that you thought you have and trade it in for bribing, bargaining, pleading and begging. In the early days of motherhood, they send you home with a baby and expect you to know everything they need. I mean, I would be lying if I told you that I didn’t have this exact thought come through my mind in the first few weeks of motherhood: Am I even qualified for this job? You don’t really receive much training on it after all. Maybe a couple parenting books, a preparation class and some stories from friends and family, but nothing can prepare you for the changes you will go through when you become a Mother. Your body changes, your life changes, and your relationships even change.
So where’s the advice in all this? I’ve put together a few different things that really resonate with me, no matter what age or stage my kids seem to be in, and I hope that you’ll find these at least entertaining if not helpful, no matter where you’re at in your motherhood journey as well.
I can do ALL things.
- This is hard to wrap your brain around. The truth is that we go through some hard things in this life and sometimes we don’t feel adequately prepared or qualified. But, God has given you everything you need to do these hard things. He will get you through the tough times and be there with you when you’re celebrating the good times. I say this mantra or saying to myself often. I can do all things. I can do all things. I have been through harder things. It’s a little reminder that when I was in the trenches, and I mean really in the trenches of motherhood, I got through it and came out on the other side. The tough times don’t last forever, but when you’re in it, you NEVER think it’s going to end. Looking back, I want to shake myself and say, it’s OKAY. It’s going to be OKAY.
- It’s also good to remember that everyone’s “hard” looks different. My hard when I had my first baby was learning to be a working mom, juggling pumping schedules, mommy guilt, work schedules, splitting days off with my husband so we could be with the baby more and then in turn not having a single day off together. You do what you gotta do. And then you adjust. You learn from your trials, missteps, and successes as well. My “hard” then was completely different from my “hard” now with three kids or even my “hard” when I had my second son. There is always going to be challenges and hard things, but you have to remember that you got through the last batch of it and you can do it again.
- How? How did I get through those tough hard seasons? Prayer. Love. And a whole lot of GRACE. I would take the time during my commute to pray. I even started praying out loud instead of in my head. For some reason, this seemed to breathe extra life into my prayers and, to me, made them feel more powerful. It was my only time of the day that I was actually alone, so I decided to use it wisely. I also spent this commute time as a pumping session. TMI and probably illegal, but it worked for me. I figured out a way to do this all hands-free so I could focus on driving and it really gave me back some of my sense of control. I use that word loosely, because again, not in control here. You have to figure out what works for you and keep doing it. The love and grace part comes into play as well very early on in Motherhood. You have to give yourself love and grace as well as those around you. It’s a big transition and the last thing you need is to beat yourself up for a messy house, unkempt hair, or forgetting to take a shower. Speaking of forgetting to take a shower. Here’s the next big piece of advice I would give to my former self…
Take a shower and ask for help.
- In the throes of motherhood, taking a shower is the first thing to go. I don’t know what it is exactly, but between feeding the baby, feeding yourself, keeping up with the diaper changes, older kids, the house, and all of the things that come with everyday life, a shower is the last thing on your mind. Not to mention the overwhelming fear that if you take a shower it will wake up the sleeping sweetie that you just spent an hour or more getting to go to sleep. That does happen, but not every time. Haha. Even with all that being said, just do it. Take the shower. Tell someone to remind you to take a shower. Sounds a little crazy and maybe I am the only one that feels this way, but let me tell you how amazing and renewing the water will be for you and your soul.
- Ask for help. This is really hard. I am the girl that when someone asks me what I need or what they can do, I smile and nod and simply say, “nothing, I’ve got this.” That’s a big fat lie. We ALL need help. And it’s ok to ask for it. Not only do you need to ask for help, but you also have to accept it when people offer it. Say yes. If someone tells you they want to bring you food, take it. If someone asks you if they can hold the baby while you go take a nap, do it. If someone tells you they want to clean your house or do the dishes, let them. Postpartum is hard. Don’t try to be a hero or superwoman. There will be plenty of time to try for that later.
Things will change.
- Motherhood changes you. Suddenly your heart ends up beating outside of your body and grows 100x bigger overnight. There is so much love that you just don’t know what to do with it. So many changes all at once and the thing about this immediate change is that it prepares you for the many changes that you will go through during the journey of motherhood.
- Babies also change so rapidly during the first few months and years of life that once you get the flow of things, they change again. I heard somewhere that in those early days of motherhood: “Get your flow and then let it go.” Motherhood is like riding the waves. Constantly ebbing and flowing. It’s a little bit like a dance. Sometimes it’s easy and free-flowing like dancing in the kitchen to your favorite song and sometimes it feels like you’ve walked into an advanced hip-hop class when you signed up for the beginners class. That’s where the letting it go part comes in. Learn to laugh at yourself and let things go, because before you know it, things will change again. That is the beauty of motherhood. It’s a permanent status that will always be messy, interesting, beautiful and full of life.
When I look back at the past 7 years and I think about the next 7 yet to come, I can’t help but smile, laugh and sometimes shake my head at all of this. It’s nice to know we aren’t alone in this journey and that somewhere out there some mom is experiencing their own journey in their own way. Let’s ride the waves together and realize how much we can do and what we have already overcome. After all, these cuties make it ALL worth it.