Have you ever wished that you could go back in time to impart a little wisdom upon yourself? (Both hands raised over here, folks.)
Over the last year and a half, I have been learning to navigate what is my new world as a mommy, which is wonderful, but can get pretty overwhelming at times. Whether you’re the mother of an infant or a teenager, each stage of life brings uncharted waters and something new to learn.
While some things can only be learned through personal experience, there’s quite a bit you can learn from the experience of others. With that being said, I’d like to share with you 5 little nuggets of wisdom I wish I could go back and tell myself prior to becoming a mother.
Looking back, I can remember several occasions in the first few months of mommyhood where I was given advice that I did not seek out. Truthfully, there were times that advice left me feeling insecure and ill-prepared. I understand now that my emotions were a little more out of wack than I cared to admit, which caused me to take things a bit too personally at times.
This brings me to my first point:
- When unsolicited advice is given to you, receive it with gratitude. I was never rude in my response to the commentary of others, but I often let it affect me in private. I would question my knowledge and capability, which came less from their advice and more from my insecurities. It’s important to understand that in most cases, unsolicited advice is given in a well-meaning manner and isn’t meant to be a jab at you or your parenting choices. Rather than getting offended, be appreciative that you’re surrounded by women who have been in your shoes and who care enough to share their experience.
With that in mind, remember that everyone has an opinion, but you don’t have to accept their opinion as your truth. We are often bombarded by the lifestyles and habits of other moms via social media. We’re drawn to the immaculate farmhouse home, with the well-groomed mother and kids baking cookies on a Tuesday — while we’re covered in snot, drowning in dirty laundry, and wearing the same t-shirt we had on yesterday. We know that social media gets the highlights, so let’s stop comparing our day-to-day reality to them. Whether you’re a stay-at-home-mom or a working mother. Whether you formula-feed or nurse. Whether you co-sleep or your child sleeps on their own.
- Understand you must to do what works for you and your family. If what works for you looks different from what works for someone else, you don’t have to make apologies or feel guilty for it. As long as you are in accordance with the Word of God, your husband, and your spiritual leadership, keep doin’ you, girlfriend. God created you to be the mother of your child, and He will equip you to be everything they need as long as you let Him. As the gatekeepers of our home, we create
the atmospherein which our family lives. This reminds me of the old saying, “Be the thermostat, not the thermometer.” A thermometer merely reflects the temperature, whereas the thermostat controls it. How do you properly control and set the spiritual temperature of your homes?
- Recognize your responsibility to prioritize prayer and devotion. Our job as a mother is made so much easier when our thoughts and decisions are filtered through prayer. One of the biggest changes motherhood brings is the lack of personal space and time. We must be intentional with our time, and that involves making prayer and devotion a priority. You are not only valuable to your household,
you arevaluable to the kingdom of God. Never doubt that what you do and who you are is important and remember that in order to properly take care of your home, you must first take care of yourself.
- Taking some time for yourself is not selfish, it’s healthy. Whether it’s going out for coffee with a friend or staying in with a bath bomb and book, some time to yourself needs to happen in order for you to recharge. I can laugh now, but this was something I struggled greatly with during those early months: not wanting to put my sweet little babe down, and then worrying about and missing him when I did. In a role where you are constantly giving of yourself, it is imperative that you take time to refuel and refill. We simply cannot be to our family what we desire if we are constantly overwhelmed and stressed out. If you’re stubborn like me, one of the most difficult things about creating time for yourself is asking for help. On that note, know that your husband cannot read your mind. If you need assistance from him, just ask. Remember, you were created to be a nurturer. Your husband? Not so much. He needs time to get the hang of things, so just be patient while he does. On the subject of time, I now bring you to the final, and perhaps most important point:
- Your current season will one day be a memory, so cherish every moment. I have learned all too quickly how time flies. With a babe who is constantly growing and learning, it’s not uncommon for a day to pass where something routine is done for the last time. Sometimes it goes unnoticed, and other times I’ve admittedly been relieved. Feedings, bath times, and even those 3 AM snuggles will all come to an end all too quickly, and here’s the kicker: There’s no going back.
On the days that I am feeling tired in every sense of the word, I always go back to an encounter I had in the grocery store when my son was only 6 months old:
Strolling through Aldi, (which is a fairly small grocery store) with my screaming baby, who was inconsolable, I was fighting back tears myself and questioning whether or not I should just leave my cart full of groceries. (Yes, it was that bad.) A woman approached me and said, “Honey, don’t you worry about any of us in here. He’s not bothering anybody. It makes me miss the days that my babies were babies. These days can be tough, but they are going to be some of your best memories.” I honestly cannot replay that day and her words in my mind and not get teary-eyed.
One day, our littles will be independent adults, and we’ll be the older woman in the grocery store. Though there’s joy in every season of life, I try to look at all of the meltdowns and chaos in the eyes of my empty-nester grocery store friend, and I’ve found I complain a little less and cherish a little more.
“The days are long, but the years are short.”