Last month our own baby girl turned ten years old. Part of me seriously considered hiding under the bed with about a dozen cupcakes and trying to pretend this was not happening. Then I got it together and threw myself into planning the slumber party of my daughters dreams. There may have been a few of my own dreams vicariously thrown in there too. I LOVE having a daughter and all the girly things that come with it.
Now that the party is behind us I have had a bit of time to accept the milestone we have reached as a family and brace myself for the tween years we are hurling towards. I took a moment to reflect on all I have learned over this lightning fast decade. Here are some of my random thoughts on things I wish I had known before I met the little stranger who made me a mom~
Ten Things I Have Learned In Ten Years As A Mom
**Disclaimer: Regarding the following~receiving unsolicited parenting advice is a right of passage for new moms. You may wish to smile, nod and do whatever you want anyway. You have my full support!
1) Your weird old Aunties (and possibly that random lady in the grocery store line up) aren’t just sobbing over “how fast time will fly by” and “they don’t stay little for long” for pure drama and to attract attention. They are are right about at least one thing. It goes by fast. There is something very cruel about the breakneck speed at which your life will start to propel forward from the moment that little bundle is placed in your arms. The way I see it you basically have two choices.
Option A) See above regarding the cupcakes & crying.
Option B) Try to focus on the this incredible gift you have received and be grateful for the opportunity to watch your child grow up. Take the time to appreciate this unique tiny human you have the honor of helping grow up.
2) Prepare to be tired. Like beyond all comprehension tired. This is not the “pulled an all-nighter studying” or “night out on the town” tired~not even close. This level of physical exhaustion is a new experience and one you will not understand until you are in the thick of it. Don’t be alarmed if caffeine basically becomes a food group.
3) The concept of love at first sight will take on a whole new meaning. This is what makes it possible to survive number two. You will also see your partner in a whole new light. Walking out of the hospital as a new family is the start of a whole new adventure. You have never been parents before and finding your way together as a unique family is an experience only the two of you will ever really understand. Just as the knowledge of this special arrival started as a secret between the two of you~your own story will be the most private but public experience you will have as a couple. Remember to lean on each other when things get crazy & celebrate the little milestones together.
4) Your house will most likely not be up to your usual standards of cleanliness and organization (if it is can you please call me? I need some advice). This phase will last for approximately…ten years? I may have to get back to you on that one. If anyone gives you any grief over this “situation” please see number one. There are more important things in life than museum caliber home presentation.
5) Babies and kids are one huge, never ending shopping opportunity. You will be shocked to discover your child does not need all that stuff! Part of the fun of waiting for baby is loading up on adorable tiny clothes and other “must haves” but other than the basics there is really no need to feel pressured to go crazy on every baby item and toy on the market.
6) Take a little help when you need it. Babies come into this world looking adorable and smelling good for a reason. People will actually WANT to give you a break so you can have a few minutes with your partner or maybe even a shower during those crazy early days. A few hours spent nurturing your relationship or yourself will pay off for your baby and your family as a whole.
7) Do not be overly surprised to discover your baby is actually a unique human being. “I was a wonderful parent before I had children” (Adele Faber) is one of my favorite quotes. Your baby will actually be their very own person and they will come with clear likes, dislikes, talents and challenges. Your child will not be a blank canvas or some amalgamation of you and your partner. Before you decide on a list of rules you intend to follow~slow down and wait until you actually meet your baby. I’m not saying your ideas and dreams are not important~just be prepared to make adjustments once your baby actually arrives and gives you their input on your dedication to avoiding pacifiers or desire to adhere to a strict schedule. Your baby is a part of your new family and they will make their opinions known. Possibly to the entire neighborhood.
There will be pressure to compare & measure your perfect little human to their peers. This is a sad reality of our society and I caution you to avoid this tendency. To say “Comparison is the thief of joy” (Theodore Roosevelt) does not even come close when dealing with your perfectly unique-and-developing-on-their-own-schedule little miracle. Try to enjoy these stages and ignore those who want to play the compare game. I have yet to meet a high school senior carrying a pacifier or who is not yet “sleeping through the night.”
8) Although the approximately 100,000 parenting books on the market will beg to differ~there is no manual for your baby. What they do come with for no extra charge is maternal instincts. Listen and respect these instincts and they will serve you well.
9) Try to not be so tough on yourself all the time. You’re doing fine~really! Your child will forgive your missteps and love you anyway (that last part may not apply during the teenage years but they will come around eventually).
10) Years from now when you look back what you will have is memories and photographs. It’s hard to believe how quickly one phase of development fades away the next one begins. Every day I look at my beautiful girl and all I can see is who she is today. If I close my eyes and really focus I can get a tiny flash of her newborn baby face or unsteady toddler legs. A quick look at our photos brings me back and I am so grateful that with everything we were trying to figure out and manage the camera was never far away. Like most new parents we took plenty of photos of our growing girl. What makes me sad is that there are so few with me in them. I let my own insecurities get in the way of being present in photos for years. I remember the times I avoided the camera or begged my husband to delete the picture because I “looked fat” or some other perceived defect. My daughter never thought I was fat. She loves me just the way I am and always has. Get in the photos with your babies. Snapshots, cell phone snaps, professional “perfect outfit” photos all count. Your children deserve to know you were there and you know what? You do too~because you can’t go back and make more memories latter.
because before you know it, this~
will turn into this~
And we all know it’s not slowing down anytime soon. Love you baby girl. xoxo.