10 Things I Wish I Had Known About Mommydom
10 Things I Wish I Had Known About Mommydom
I have been a mom for 4.5 years and I am still learning things all of the time. However, there are 10 things that I wish I had known about being a mom before I became one. If I had known these things, I would have saved myself a great deal of time, stress and money.
1. Everyone will have an opinion about your parenting choices, but no one is an expert on parenting.
Once I became a mom, it seemed like everyone felt as though they had the need and the right to weigh in on how my son should be raised. People had opinions about my decisions to breastfeed, co-sleep, homeschool, work from home, and even my choices in how to style my son’s hair. It was frustrating and annoying to have so many people telling me what I should be doing differently. However, I soon learned that their opinions about how I raise my son are just that -- opinions. They are not facts.
Every parent has to decide how they will raise their children. They have to make educated decisions concerning what they feel would be best for their child and their family. Since not every child (or family) is the same, it only follows that the parenting choices that we make will vary. There is no universal parenting method. No one-size-fits-all approach. At the end of the day, we simply do the best that we can to ensure that our children are safe, happy, healthy and well provided for.
2. You will learn on the job.
When I discovered that I was pregnant, I did what came naturally to me – I started researching. I read tons of books. I watched videos. I joined online forums and asked questions. I even took birth & parenting classes at the local hospital. However, nothing in the books, videos, or forums could teach me as much about being a mom as, well, being a mom. Sure, they can be great resources – however, the greatest teacher in the world is experience. You live. You try new things. You make mistakes. You learn from them. You find out what works and what doesn’t work by getting out there and trying your best. It’s all well and good to prepare for parenthood, but you should also know that some things can’t be learned until you are actually in the thick of it.
3. Comparison is the thief of happiness.
I think that it is human nature to compare. To look at what others have or are doing and feel as though we are either on track or need to do more. This tendency is something that we also carry-over into parenthood. We compare ourselves to each other. We look at other moms and wonder if we are doing things right. We wish that we were as crafty as this mom or as organized as that mom. We also compare our kids to other kids. “My son is four and he isn’t talking as much as that 4-year-old. Is something wrong with him?” “My daughter isn’t potty trained yet but one of the kids in her play group has been potty trained for six months. What am I doing wrong?” And it doesn’t help when you have people who chime in with things like “Your daughter is 5 and can’t read yet?! My son was reading by the time he was 3.”
These comparisons can make us feel as though we are not doing everything that we can. They also lead us to having high expectations for our children. Often, much higher than we should have. I believe that children can sense these feelings of doubt, frustration and concern. I also feel that these things can instill in them low self-confidence or a desire to do things just to prove that they are “good enough.” Personally, I don’t want my son to feel like he is “less than” just because he is not the same as everyone else. Especially since the reality is that everyone is different. There is no such thing as a cookie cutter child. They all have their own personalities and they all develop at their own rates.
Making these types of comparisons can keep you in a negative mental space that is wholly unnecessary. Rather than comparing yourself to the mom next door or comparing your child to the child down the street, take joy in the fact that we are all unique individuals that have something to offer the world. Embrace who you are and who your child is.
4. Kids aren’t as fragile as they seem.
I admit it- I’m one of those paranoid moms who is super protective of her child. I have made trips to the emergency room for a simple rash. I rushed to the rescue for every single fall and fussed over every scratch or scrape. You know what my son does when he falls? He gets up, brushes himself off, yells “I’m okay!” and goes on about his business. Sure, sometimes there are tears. Some falls require bandages and kisses. However, he is a tough kid. I think that I would have done well to know that kids really aren’t as breakable as they seem. Of course, I would still be there to protect him and to help him stay away from dangerous situations. And I would still never hesitate to take him to the doctor if I feel that it is even remotely necessary. M policy is “better safe than sorry.” However, I think that I would have been a bit more relaxed about letting him get out and get dirty.
5. The best laid plans are laid to waste.
When I was pregnant. I made some decisions about the type of mom that I would be and the type of child that I would raise. I wanted to have a natural birth. I wanted to breastfeed and use cloth diapers. I wanted to feed him nothing but homemade baby food. I wanted him to walk by the time he was one and to be potty trained by the time he was two. In reality, I did have a natural birth (that was more painful than I thought humanly possible, lol); I breastfed for almost a year, but also supplemented it with formula sometimes; I used disposable diapers; and although I mostly gave him homemade food, he also had Gerber’s. As for walking, he didn’t do that until he was well over a year old (on Christmas Day of 2011, in fact). And he wasn’t fully potty trained until he was nearly 4. However, he is happy, healthy and well-adjusted. That is what really matters, at the end of the day. We often have these visions of perfection rolling around in our heads. However, I have learned that perfect simply doesn’t exist. And that is ok.
6. Emotions are intensified.
It may sound cliché’, but I honestly didn’t know how much love I was capable of until I became a mother. However, I also didn’t know how frustrated I could become. Or how angry. And, amazingly, I didn’t know how much I could worry (which is saying something, because I am a notorious worrier). Somehow, when you become a mother, your emotions are intensified. Perhaps there is some kind of biological reason for it. We become more protective, alert, and nurturing because that is what our children need in order for them to survive and thrive. However, it still came as a shock to me to feel things so intensely.
7. Happy family trumps clean homes.
I admit that I am not the best when it comes to housekeeping. However, I know that many moms really spend a lot of time making sure that their home is in tip top condition at all times. As is wont to happen, I would look at those moms and feel as though I were somehow lacking because my home was not in perfect order. My laundry room was never empty. There were often dishes in the sink. Toys were usually scattered on the floor. I felt like a failure because my house was not spotless. So I tried to be like them. I tried to make sure my house looked perfect. I tell you – it was tiring! I felt like I was doing too much trying to raise my child (alone), go to school, run a business, maintain a blog AND keep my house “perfect.” Something had to give! I decided that it’s okay if my house looks lived in. And when I let go of that guilt, I felt so much lighter (not to mention I was a bit less exhausted).
8. Kids are often satisfied with the simplest things.
As parents, we want our kids to have the best that we can give. However, I have found that often our kids are satisfied with the simple things. They appreciate us spending more time with them. They love for us to play with them. Or to ask them more questions. They relish the conversations that we have with them and the time that we spend loving on them. With kids, it really is the little things that count the most.
9. Kids are little people.
I think that it is easy to forget that kids are not just kids – they are adults in training. They are not robots that we can control. They have personalities and idiosyncrasies. They have needs and desires that may not always align with what we expect. They have their own ways of thinking and of looking at the world. Just as we have to work to get to know friends, lovers, and other people in our lives, we have to work to get to know our children. They can often surprise you. Sometimes they throw you for a complete loop. Heck, sometimes, it will be difficult. However, parenting these little people can be such an amazing, interesting and rewarding experience.
10. Time flies – spend it well.
The one thing that I wish I had known before becoming a mom is that time really and truly does fly. It seems like just yesterday that I gave birth to a beautiful 20 inch long little boy that was just shy of 8 pounds. Now he is 4.5 years old, over 4 feet tall and is definitely nowhere near as light as he used to be. I once wondered how long it would be before he started walking. Now he runs around on the soccer field with his homeschool friends. I used to be concerned about whether he would start speaking in full sentences. Now he is full of questions and declarations galore. From being a tiny bundle in my arms to being a loving, sensitive, energetic and inquisitive little boy – the time surely HAS flown. And I can’t get any of it back. So I am committed to being present and cherishing every moment – however fleeting it may be. I recommend you do the same.
What is something that you wish you had known about being a mom?
Arkansas Women Bloggers member Tiffany Hathorn has been blogging since the summer of 2010. She got started as a way to document her pregnancy and her life as a first-time mother. Since then, her blog has transformed into a chronicle of her life as a single WAHM. She blogs about raising her son solo, working from home and her journey as a homeschooling mom. If you would like to follow Tiffany, you may do so by subscribing to her blog or liking her fan page