Lessons I've Learned From Being A Young Mom
Mother's Day is just around the corner. For me Mother's Day has always been important. I can remember being a kid and every year on Mother's day we would go to the nursery and get plants for the garden then spend the afternoon together as a family planting and playing outside.
This is my second Mother's Day but this one seems to have hit me the most. Jane was just a newborn last year and the weight of being a mother hadn't quite hit me the way it does now.
It's amazing how much you can love something that causes so much chaos, joy and change.
Here are a few things I've leaned from being a young mom:
This is something I heard constantly while I was pregnant.
"They grow up so fast."
"Enjoy every second of it, it flies by."
Of course I believed what they were saying but with out experiencing I couldn't fathom how fast it really goes. Every day she is learning something new and every week she's noticeably different. This time last year she was a new born. She couldn't crawl, she couldn't walk or express herself. Now she's running around the house, playing with toys, feeding herself and getting into everything. It's a weird feeling missing her being a newborn but loving and enjoying every second of her growing and learning.
Perfect Doesn't Exist. Period.
Now this is something everyone says and we all know. But the little girls childhood dream of a beautiful wedding, a house, a dog and perfect kids .. who all live happily ever after becomes a tough pill to swallow when reality is nothing like how you pictured. Your spouse or partner isn't perfect, your kids aren't perfect and being a mom you realize how far from perfect you are. Should I have breastfed longer? Should he bed time be so late? Does that make me a bad mom? Should she watch TV or not?
I had an idea in my head on how parenting would be, I knew that I had no idea, but as we all do, we think we've got a basic understanding. I pictured getting married, moving into a house with my husband, getting pregnant and excitedly telling our parents and it being this joyous happy occasion. Boy was I mistaken.
We got pregnant accidentally while on birth control, neither of us wanted a kid yet, we weren't married, didn't have a house and then had to shamefully tell our parents our HUGE mistake. We fought the entire pregnancy because he didn't want to be a dad yet and I wasn't ready to be a mom. Nothing about it was how I imagined and at times I'm still resentful of how that year of our life went. Noting is perfect.
As a mother I am constantly questioning if I'm doing it right. And I know I'm not the only mom who does this. Most days I'm up early and being a "good mom" by getting her dressed and making her a healthy breakfast before we do a learning activity like block stacking, drawing, or reading. BUT then there are those days I turn on the TV and fee her left over pancakes while in our pajamas. Nothing is perfect.
Jane is a wild child. She loves to be barefoot exploring the outside. She's loud and messy. In my eyes she's perfect. But there are days she will throw tantrums in the grocery store while everyone is watching, get mad and hit or scratch me, or refuse to eat what I made for lunch. Did I mention nothing is perfect?
What I'm learning is how to deal with and accept this imperfection. It's life and I've got to go with the flow. We're going to have rough days, I'm going to doubt my parenting, Jane's going to have tantrums, and Chris is going to let me down from time to time. I need to be okay with all of this and not let it ruin my day or bring me down. I need to not feel like a failure or think that because one thing went wrong that the whole world is ending. This is what I'm constantly learning.
Friends and Friendships Change
A big thing I learned with be coming a mom is that friendships change. The friends I had before With the exhaustion and spending more time at home we go out less. Our schedules are still packed full with dinners, game nights, engagement parties and marathons but we definitely don't do as much as we used to or see as many people. And with that a few friendships have fizzled out.
We aren't getting ready at 9:00pm to go down town to a bar at 11:00pm anymore so that social aspect is completely gone. For Chris he still goes out to the pub with his coworkers after work occasionally but doesn't stay out nearly as late because he knows I like some help putting Jane down for bed.
With being a new parent a number of more social friendships have dwindled or we see them less often but we have made many new friendships with other parents. We have a good group of about 30 people and we like to get together as often as we can. We have an annual friendsgiving, Christmas party, we're constantly doing BBQs and tons of camping together. Chris and I are the only ones in the group who have a kid so for us finding friends with kids was something new.
We live in a fairly small apartment building with only 30 units. Last year four ladies in the building including myself had babies. Jane being the oldest and the youngest only 7 months younger than Jane. Us four moms and our babes would try and get together every single week. It's been so encouraging to go through the same situation with three other ladies. Not only are us moms all friends but our husbands have met through us ladies and all become good friends as well. These are friendships we couldn't have if it weren't for Jane. We are so blessed to have them in our lives.
Age Doesn't Matter
No matter your age everyone raises their child differently. Whether you're a young single mom or a 50+ mom whose been married for 20 years it all takes a tole and is different for everyone. Every person raises their child differently and one persons way isn't better than another's. What I've found is each mom knows their kid best. As moms we spend the most time, if not all our time, with our kids. We notice little things about them other's wouldn't and we know what they need.
The other ladies in my building who I mentioned before are older than I. Two of the moms are in their 30's and another is over 50. We all live in the same building, all shop at the same grocery store and do very similar things but each of us raises our kids completely different. We all have different ideas on how kids should be raised but whats important is that our kids are all happy and healthy. There isn't one right way to raise a child.
I am the youngest of the moms in our building but I had Jane a few months before anyone else had theirs. Who do you think they go to for advice or help? Some my assume you'd go to the 50+ mom because she is older and wiser. But every mom comes to me when they need advice, even the 50+ mom. Because I've been there and gone through it all with Jane already.
I hope that you young moms are encouraged by this. You should never feel like less of a mom because you're young. You're doing just fine. :)
Here are a few other things I've learned this year that I won't go into much but I still wanted to mention:
You Become Less So They Can Become More
There's a big shift in 'whats important' when you become a parent. Things that once mattered, like getting the new pair of jeans, spending an hour in front of the mirror to get ready or knowing what new concert is playing becomes trivial. What used to be so important becomes a faint memory if not completely forgotten. Things like bath time and watching your kid learn something new becomes so much more important. I used to spend an hour getting ready in the morning, now its a messy bun and no make up just so I can spend time with her eating breakfast.
Our Parents Love Us This Much.
Chis and are so blessed to have two amazing parents. Our parent's were up all night with us while we were sick, got up early for our hockey and soccer games, sat through PTA meetings, helped us with our homework and sacrificed so much for us. This really hit me this year with Jane. I never knew I could love something so much and this is how my parent's feel about me. It's mind boggling.
Enjoy The Little Things.
Not just enjoying the little things about your child but also enjoying time alone, even just taking a shower is like going to the spa.
Patience is Abundant.
I'm not great with patience, as in I don't have any. Everything takes longer with a kid, you have to pack more things, they are slow to do anything, and don't forget to tack on an hour to do anything. Kids will test your patience and push their luck. I've learned that even when you feel all patience has be expended and your sanity is at stake some how you persevere.
Sometimes Jane can push me to the end of my rope and I think I won't be able to handle anymore but some how, right when I think I'm going to break, a wave of calm and patience comes over me and I can make it through. Maybe my stubbornness is a part of it and instead of fighting it I realize I need to take a different approach. I'm not to sure but somehow this little one year old ball of fire has constantly been testing and teaching me patience.
There is No Class, No Teacher, No Program or Book That Can Prepare You For Being a Parent.
This is a huge point and I could write a whole blog post just on this alone. Parenting is a learn as you go kind of thing. When Jane was a newborn with colic I would be up all night with her (literally all .. night... long...). To pass the time I would read everything I could about babies, colic, teething parenting, development, toys and feeding. You name it I read it. Yes, much of what I read has helped and has been a great resource but even with all that reading nothing could have prepared me for the day-to-day grind of parenting.
So there you have it, that's some of the things I have learned being a young mom this pat year. What things have you learned being a parent? Let me know in the comments below!