Yesterday was my oldest child’s 7th birthday. Seven years since I held that little baby for the first time. Seven years since my life changed forever. Seven years since I became a mother. This anniversary was appropriately celebrated last night, just before midnight, with the sound of that sweet little child vomiting in my bed. Yep, it happened. Most likely because he ate too much cake last evening, but the jury is still out. This is motherhood.
In reality, this scene was somewhat similar to the first time we met – messy, unexpected, chaotic, and loving at the same time. That day, the day of his birth, I had plans. I was going to go in, wait as long as I could for an epidural, and then my body was going to do what it was created to do, and we were gonna have a baby. WRONG – all WRONG. None of that happened – no one cooperated – and I ended up in an operating room, doped up on nausea medications, and honestly, I was a little out of it when that precious being was born. No one really tells you that part, you know, the “throw out all your plans and just wing it part”. But that’s how they really should start the birthing class – and when is someone gonna start the “how to actually take care of your baby class?”. That would be a lot more helpful than how to breathe through a contraction – can I get an AMEN? No one teaches you how to take care of a human. Sure they tell you to change the diapers, feed the baby, and repeat – oh, and never shake them. But there are many ways to reach the same goal, at least one thousand contraptions at Babies”R”Us to assist you with the aforementioned, but no one tells you what is right for you or your baby. This is where the “wing it” comes in.
I’m gonna tell you a secret – lean in, read carefully, pay attention – no one really knows what they’re doing when it comes to mothering. NO ONE. I know you have met the super moms who appear to have it all together. They may bake the gluten-free cupcakes that look like an actual lady bug, but they’re winging it too. They may not show up to work with a yogurt smeared shoulder like I do every morning (compliments of my youngest who believes I’m a human napkin), but I bet at some point we’ve felt the same – overwhelmed, tired, blissfully happy, excited, scared, and over-the-top unqualified all at the same time. No matter how you became a mother – the glorious natural delivery (hahaha), the “easy” C-section (I really want to slap people who think this), or adoption – you, for the most part, will at some point have to “wing it” and here’s a few things I’ve learned to help..
- Stop comparing yourself to other moms. We are different people, with different children – some of us work, some stay at home, some breast feed, some bottle feed, some have our children in a hospital, some at home, some of our children go to public school, some private, some home-school, and the list could go on and on and on. We are different and we usually compare our worst mothering fail to someone else’s best mothering moment – that’s not fair – Stop it right now – stop comparing, embrace the differences and lets give each other some grace for goodness sake.
- There will be vomit, urine, and poop – it happens and usually at inopportune moments. Embrace it, invest in weather tech floor mats for your car (lets all pray they start making them for our homes), clean it up and move on. The other people in line at Wal-Mart will get over the fact that your child soiled themselves in the checkout line.
- Perfection is not the goal. I’m not sure who made us think that we needed to be perfect to raise great kids, but I think all Mothers feel the pressure. I want my kids to be happy, healthy, and productive citizens – none of that involves perfection. I will make mistakes, they will make mistakes and you will make mistakes. Learn from your mistakes and love your children through theirs.
- Children really want time with you over things, perfect birthday parties, and the best most expensive gifts. I almost killed myself trying to give my son the perfect first birthday party. I was so tired I couldn’t enjoy it and you wanna know what’s even worse – he doesn’t remember a single second of it. I vowed to myself I would never do that again. Kids don’t care if you made the cake or if Publix made the cake. They don’t care if you made the decorations or if they are store-bought. All gifts will become boring. Spend your time, money and energy wisely. Make real memories not just Facebook ones.
- You are stronger than you think. When you become a mother, everything changes. You somehow have a new perspective that some call a “Mother’s instinct”. You may not know this or feel this, but at some point you will be forced to “go with your gut”. Follow that instinct – it’s there for a reason. You also have bear inside you that has been hidden for years. Believe me, when someone messes with your cub, that bear will come out. You may have to tame your bear from time to time because you can’t go around killing people, but it’s there when you need it. Be confident – you got this.
- Ask for help when you need it. Although no one knows what’s best for your kids except you, there are others who have walked in your shoes and can help you carry the load. Talk to other moms, friends, and relatives that keep it real and get a honest opinion. When you need a break, ask someone to keep the kids for an hour or so (or longer – can you keep my kids for a month?). You will need an outlet – I will caution you a little here – choose friends wisely and don’t get caught up with “keeping up with the Joneses”. Keep it real, ask for help and takes breaks when you need it.
This is not an all-inclusive list but I hope it helps. I’ll leave you with one last piece of advice that I think encompasses all of the above – focus on what your kids will remember and not what others think. When I look back on my childhood, I don’t remember specifics of my birthday parties/cakes, I don’t remember the gifts, I don’t remember the gourmet meals or lack there of, but I do remember my mother. I remember her sitting at an old kitchen table eating cereal with cut up bananas, I remember her cheering me on at the ball field, I remember her laugh, her hugs, her smile and her love – funny how that works – I just remember her – and to this day when she hugs me everything else goes away. That’s what your kids will remember too. You’re Mom – imperfect, overwhelmed, tired, funny, crazy Mom and that’s all they need. So pull up your Mommy britches, go with your gut and “Wing It” –