Those who know me probably won’t believe that despite being Mrs. Pinterest and being (by all outward appearances) such a calm and patient mother, I never envisioned myself as one. To be quite honest, I found other people’s children to be overwhelming and a little bit scary. Yet when my husband and I got that first positive pregnancy result, motherhood happened in that instant. Suddenly I wasn’t just Anthea anymore, I was a mother with all the maternal instincts and nurturing abilities that comes with the title.
I know it doesn’t happen like this for everyone. Some mothers only bond the moment when they meet their baby for the first time, for others it can take even longer but this was how I was thrust into motherhood.
Here are 10 Things Motherhood has taught me and I’m sure that some of you can relate to at least some of them if not all!
1. It really does take a village to raise a child
Before my first baby arrived I was determined to do everything alone, I’d read the books, I’d done the research, got all the equipment, I was ready for motherhood right? WRONG!
I’ll never forget how secretly disgruntled I was that my mother-in-law would be taking a few days off from work for the sole purpose of “helping out” after the baby was born. I thought that she didn’t think I was capable of taking care of her precious grandchild on my own what with being an inexperienced mother and all.
But alas, those first few days with baby after we were home from the hospital I nearly cried real tears every single morning when I heard her car pull up in the driveway, counting the minutes until she would get inside the house and gently take the baby from me so I can have a blissful few hours of sleep. Every chore she did around my house during those few days was one less chore that I had to worry about. And everyday I’d close my eyes and think to myself as I drifted off to sleep – “but how did she know?…”
My children are older now but I still rely very heavily on both my mothers, my husband, my family and my friends for their constant advise, support, attentive ears, sympathy, or just to share in the joys and triumphs in those moments when I actually do “get it right”. While it’s true that I am the primary caregiver for my children, I would not be able to cope without all this loving support.
2. I’ve learned to trust my instinct
We are bombarded everyday via social media and other parents with information on how to be a better parent. I’ve learned over time to respectfully take everything under advisement but to decide for myself what to apply. What worked great for others might not work the same for mine, every family situation is different so you have to filter all the information, find the right fit for your children and apply only that, making adjustments along the way.
Motherhood is a continuous learning curve.
My instincts have served me well on a number of occasions in keeping my children out of harms way so I am more confident to trust my “inner feeling”.
I believe that while I may not be the most perfect mother, I am the perfect and best mother to raise my children. I know this without a doubt because God entrusted them into my care thereby giving me the responsibility of raising them right and keeping them safe as much as it’s in my power to do so.
3. Motherhood is humbling
In my pre-motherhood days I only ever had to take care of myself and I was hardly an expert at that! I never thought that I would one day be capable of raising a child, let alone two!
Motherhood is getting through a few weeks of pain before your breasts acclimatize enough to make breastfeeding a comfortable and pleasant experience.
Motherhood is having your sleep constantly interrupted whether you need to feed, change bedding, sit up with a sick child or take a sleeping toddler to the loo, no matter how exhausted you are.
I’ve always secretly considered myself to be quite glamorous (dare I say it?) but there is nothing glamorous about changing stinky diapers, wiping a bum or getting peed and puked on!
Motherhood is about surviving one day at a time until you feel like you’ve got it in hand, and then you enter into a new phase of childhood development and you have to learn some more!
Survive and adapt. Survive and adapt. That’s my mantra.
That being said…
4. Take care of yourself
I’ve learned that because I am so vitally important to these other human beings, I need to take care of myself too. I need to grab sleep whenever I can, I need to make use of any help that is offered, I need to always wear at least a dash of lipstick and mascara and I need to brush my hair. I also need to carve out a few moments everyday that is just for me to do whatever the heck I feel like doing – even if it is just reading a book or magazine for a half hour.
Taking care of yourself will greatly improve your performance and all-around emotional well-being as a mother.
5. The days are long but the years are short
On her blog, More than love, Breanna says it best:
Time is every mother’s worst enemy….Don’t wish away the present, because it becomes the past far too quickly.
Some phases of motherhood are more challenging than others. Taking care of my babies was so challenging with very little sleep and hardly any reward, but now that my youngest is almost too old to be called a toddler, I sorely miss those early years. The time when I could hold them in my arms and they were completely dependent on me.
I’ve seen how quickly they grow so I don’t look ahead anymore. Instead I live in the present by taking pictures, making videos, scrapbooking, keeping little mementos, talking to them, playing with them and to savor every single moment of their childhood before they get even bigger and their world expands beyond me.
6. One size does not fit all
I learned SO much from mothering my firstborn! It was nerve-wracking always having to learn from my mistakes but he got through his baby stages in one piece (except for a few ER trips). I really thought while I was expecting my second child that “I’ve got this”…. until she was born! She was a completely different specimen than my first. She was the exact opposite of everything that I had been conditioned to expect from my firstborn so I had to throw the rule book out of the window and learn how to be a mother all from scratch! Where my firstborn son is very happy to let me pamper him, my younger daughter is Miss Independent and prefers to do EVERYTHING for herself.
At least I have learned that it’s OK to allow them to be different and to love and nurture them both according to their individual personalities.
7. Ignore parental competition
I’ve encountered MANY parents over the past eight years who love nothing better than to favorably compare their children to yours. Yet I’ve seen tiny premature babies grow up to be taller than babies who were born late. If your children are healthy and happy what more could any mother ask for?
Just because a baby reaches a milestone ahead of others of the same age does it does not mean that he/she will be an over-achiever in life. As my hilarious friend Laverne from Shell Shocked Mummy once said, “I’ve never heard of anyone saying “Wow! He must have gotten that job because he crawled at 8 months!“.
Encouraging unhealthy competition early on will only put unnecessary pressure on your child as he/she grows. Instead, we should all allow our children to develop naturally and at their own pace.
Keep your parental pride for the things that matter like a good report card due to hard work, or when you see you have produced a well-mannered child. Like that moment when my sweet daughter tells me that I am the queen because I am her mom. Whatever she meant by that I melted.
The only validation you ever need is your motherly pride. And it’s so much more rewarding when other people compliment you on your children.
8. Never underestimate the power of a hug
This goes for me as well as the children. Some days are so rough that I really only need a hug from my husband, whether he or the children are the cause of my frustration.
I have learned to never underestimate the power of a hug, especially when dealing with an emotional or seemingly disobedient child. From experience I know that sometimes they just don’t know how to deal with their emotions and that I can diffuse their anger with a hug and some understanding instead of punishment and a scolding.
8. Roll with the punches
Motherhood is friggin’ tough! To constantly put your own needs last can only come naturally to a parent. Even though it is very rewarding, it is not for the faint-hearted. It’s like enlisting in the army and it will toughen you up just as fast.
So you had a bad day (sings song in her head) but tomorrow will probably be better. You just have to learn to roll with the punches like I have. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Maybe tomorrow after the tenth time you repeat yourself your children will finally do as you say. You can only do your best everyday.
9. A house can be clean and untidy all at the same time
If your children are anything like mine they like to play with ALL their toys displayed in full view. It’s pointless trying to coax them into packing one toy away before starting on a new activity. Trust me, I’ve tried this and it doesn’t take.
My solution is to tidy up the toys at certain points throughout the day – like before school and before bedtime. Just because your house is untidy it does not mean that it’s not clean. It just means that I have kids and I’m sure any parent will understand. I can’t recall how many times I’ve apologized for the mess to an unexpected visitor only to have them reply that it’s OK they know that children are around. Other parents get it. They are also in the trenches and shouldn’t pass judgement.
10. Superwoman has nothing on me
Motherhood has made me more confident in my inner strength and taught me that I am more than capable. It’s unleashed powers and abilities that I never dreamed I had in me. Did you know that a single kiss from my lips is so magical that it can heal most hurts?
My body might not be supermodel perfect and I might not be able to run for more than a few minutes without feeling like I will pass out, but this body has grown a human being from a single cell into a fully formed baby and nurtured it until it was ready for solid food.
My children are not only happy and (relatively) in one piece, but they seem to be thriving from all the love and affection they get at home.
I’ve managed to rise to every single challenge of motherhood so far by the grace of God and a lot of support from my husband, family and friends and I have yet to succumb to the pressures and worries that comes with the territory of raising children. I am still coping and I am still standing and pressing forward!
If you can relate to any of these experiences I would love to hear from you! Let me know by leaving a comment below. One of the surprisingly good things about being a mom is the support you get from other moms and I really do appreciate your comments.