7 things I wished I had known before becoming a mom
I am a mom of three pretty adorable kids. I'm also a military wife which makes things a little more complicated than your normal mom. In the military they call anyone who is related to the actual military member a " dependent " however we " dependents " are anything but dependent.
A little backstory. In 2010 I moved to New York City to work where I had met my husband. After a few months of dating we decided to get married. So I headed home from NYC packed up whatever I could fit into my 2002 Honda accord grabbed my BFF and we drove to Connecticut. It took us 2.5 days to do it. Looking back at my 19 year old self I do applaud myself because it was an adventure. Two girls who had never traveled to the other side of the country we were basically living on a prayer. We got there safely a few days after being there she left and I was alone. Of course I had Skyler but a few days after she had left he left for an underway (an underway is when a submarine leaves the base for whatever reason could be for testing, deployment or even for some sailors to do certain qualifications.) He left for 2 weeks. My 19 year old self alone 2,000 miles away from the only place I ever knew to be home, away from everyone I knew. And then he left. It was like this for months. If you haven't been to New England then imagine this. Driving on roads that only fit mini coopers. The roads were tiny of course they were because this is where people lived when they came over from England. A lot of New England has similar characteristics of England.
Basically what I'm saying here is that I had no choice but to be independent.
Everything that I know as an adult is the result of leaving home as a adult/teenager and learning things the hard way. The first year we were married Skyler was home 4 months. Our first daughter was born in August of 2011. A week after she was born he was gone again for a few months. It continued on like this until the next year when he deployed. So here I am a young mother not having anyone to really rely on or to turn to being so far away. I look back and just wished that someone would have told me a thing or two about being a mom. What to expect or to not expect. So first thing is first.
SURVIVE. Okay I am being completely serious. My main motto as a mom especially having more kids than I do hands is that you just need to survive. Your hair does not need to be perfect. The house does not need to be spotless and you know what? Laundry its just a mountain of a never ending pile of despair. With that being said it. IT CAN WAIT! Babies grow up and then they aren't babies anymore. The mess can wait it'll be there tomorrow. But one day those little ones won't. So if you do just that and " survive " each day to me you are the most amazing mom. You don't need to jam pack your days with park outings, lunch dates, trips to the mall. I think its safe to say that your kids would be happy playing with YOU. As a mom the older my kids get I realize how vital it really is to be attentive to their needs even if to you it seems small because to them its HUGE.
Listen to your heart. In the world of becoming a parent you will soon realize a few things. That to a lot of people its " my way or the high way ". You will meet some who think there is only one way to do things. One way to parent. Everyone is different. Some parents choose to vaccinate others choose to not some even delay vaccinations. Some parents feed their babies formula while others breastfeed until they're 2 years old. Other parents feed their kids pb&j sandwiches or macaroni and some parents feed their kids exclusively organic, non-gmo, gluten free etc. Some parents cloth diaper and some do disposable. What I'm saying here is everyone is different. There is no right or wrong way to parent AS LONG AS YOUR CHILD IS HAPPY AND KNOWS THEY ARE LOVED. Obviously there is more to it making sure they're healthy etc. But in the world of parenting it can be twisted and distorted resulting in you feeling like you are not a good parent. A little advice I've learned in the past 5 years. If you have to question or be concerned if you are being a good mom, chances are, you are. Everyone has an off day. No one is perfect and every day we can start fresh as long as we strive to be better and focus on our kids' happiness, I would say you get an A+ in parenting.
The mommy competition. You are going to feel like you are never enough or that everything has to always be perfect. From your hair to the way your kids are dressed. You'll feel like someone is always outdoing you. Here's a little secret. WHO CARES! Guess what? They probably feel the exact same way as you! We are all struggling moms. And I think the important thing here is to remember that we all are striving to be in the same place. Go the same direction. Do the same things. We just want our kids to be happy and healthy. Can you imagine how much better the world would be if we cut out the mommy competition and all us moms just leaned on each other for help. We all have unique skills and gifts that could easily benefit everyone if we were just a little more kind and loving to each other.
Communication is key. I feel like as a mom we have the weight of the world on our shoulders. We're programmed to think we have to do it all. But that is far from true. If you need help reach out to those who love you. They will help. If you need a break take a break! Its crucial as a mom that we take care of ourselves too because if we don't how will we ever take care of our little ones? With my first daughter I had severe postpartum depression. The countless nights I would cry myself to sleep while Skyler away on the submarine it was hard. Its so important to talk to someone, have adult conversations it'll help you in more ways than you realize.
Self Love. Each time I've had a baby I've found that I forget about myself completely and focus on everyone else. Essentially forgetting to eat, shower and sometimes I would wear throw up clothes all day. You just forget about yourself. But hey! Us moms need loving too. Whether it be at the gym or grocery shopping alone which for those first time moms you will soon learn that a trip to the store or any outing without a child quickly becomes a short lived vacation. Funny thing is that after 1 hour you start to feel like your missing a limb and come back to the chaos that was driving you crazy but at the same time you missed. Remember you are important.
The melt downs and guilt. All I ever heard was that parenting would be a breeze and that to not worry. While they were right on the not worrying part they were not so much on the breeze part. More like stormy hurricane winds. Being a mom is REALLY FLIPPING HARD. You can totally do it. But it is the hardest job in the world. And as kids grow sometimes some swears will be thrown down. Or you'll scream into a pillow because you have to tell them something for the thousandth time. And right as you've clean up the sea of toys in their room and you walk away to clean the spilled milk you'll hear the 3 year old pouring out the toys again. Just remember this. Next time Just part that red sea. Make a walk way. I've decided that the 3 year old dumps out all the toys because well.. Its just easier finding what she needs when everything is right where she can find it. Make things easier on you and just roll with the punches. If they're having a melt down in public get on their level and look them in the eye and just hug them. I think at this point all they want is for someone to understand them. And please remember to not feel guilty. The countless nights I lay wide awake staring at the ceiling going over the day feeling I wished the day went differently just remember tomorrow is a new day. A clean slate. A fresh start. And no matter what.. they will always love you.
Always Say I love you. We often forget that kids are so impressionable. Their little brains are still developing at rapid rates. In a moments time things can get out of hand and anything that can go wrong will go wrong. Just stay calm. They watch your every move. I'm not even kidding you. The older my children have gotten I have witnessed with my own two eyes they watch you. Recently I noticed my 3 year old quietly fold her arms during our routine family prayer each night after we read stories. She is with me all day everyday. You can bet that she learned that from home. Each time I've been frustrated or upset with one of my kids no matter what I look them in the eyes and say I love you. At the end of each day I always tell them " I love you " there is nothing more important in the world than for a child to know and feel that they are safe and loved.
These are just a few things that have helped me from time to time because really being a parent is the most wonderful, joyful, incredibly scary journey that you will ever take in your lifetime. Its so intimidating to think that we are solely responsible for the life of another human being(s). But at the same time how lucky we are to be able to have that opportunity. I am reminded constantly the blessings of being a mom. If you take anything away from this list then let it be just this and that is that the days you feel like you are not enough remember each moment you are taking care of your child you are doing God's work. You have been trusted with angels. Its incredible to think of it in a such a way that God could entrust us with his angels. When you feel like you are not enough remember God thought you were more than enough and just perfect to be the mother of his Heavenly children he sent into your life.