Mother's Day is fast approaching and I've found myself reflecting on my own motherhood as well as the women who have mothered me over the years: my mom -- of course! -- and others who played an important role in my life. My stepmom, my best friend's mom, my mother-in-law... the list goes on. I learned how to be a mother from these women.
All my life I've watched and learned. This was an unconscious effort at first -- I wasn't thinking about the kind of mom I'd be when I was getting ready for a high school party. But, as I moved closer toward adulthood, I watched the parents parenting around me and I learned. Although these observations gave me a general sense for what being a mom would be like, nothing prepares you for the real thing.
My baby is quickly approaching 6 months old and my toddler is almost 2 1/2. I don't claim to know it all and I'm certainly not a perfect mom. But, I do my best and have taken to heart a few key lessons along the way.
- Listen to your gut. Do your research and then decide what works best for YOU and YOUR BABY. And don't worry if that doesn't match up with your sister, cousin, friend or the judgy stranger at the grocery store.
- Find a support group. You need people you can go to with questions and concerns. People who are in a similar phase of life, who understand without explanation why you are crying and laughing at the same time.
- Learn to smile and nod while ignoring unsolicited advice (mine included). You don't have to take the advice, but be polite and listen nicely.
- It is OK to leave your baby for an hour, for an evening or even overnight with others. Your baby will survive and so will you. It is also OK to miss her like crazy and cry like a maniac when you have her back in your arms.
- Figure out what makes your child smile and laugh, and then do it over and over and over again. Even if your sing-song voice drives your husband up the wall.
- Listen to your husband... sometimes. My husband takes the Occam's razor approach, which is a nice balance to tendency to over-analyze and over-Google every.single.thing. He's right more often than not. Don't tell him I said that.
- To quote Michael Scott: "Adapt. React. Readapt. Act." Kids will keep you on your toes. Just when you think you have things figured out, they change and you have to start over. Don't worry -- it isn't just your kid. This is true of all kids ever born.
So, there you have it. These seven little lessons that have served me well and will continue to serve me well as my children grow. I tried to come up with three more lessons to make a well-rounded number, but I'm tired. I was up with my baby at one in the morning, then again at 6 and then my toddler woke up at 6:30. I'm a mom and I have a job that keeps me busy, so seven is good enough. In fact, I'll make that last sentence lesson number eight: What you have to give is good enough.