Dear me before I became a mom,
You’re in for the adventure of a lifetime. Your baby isn’t the only one who was born today. You, as a mother, were born today, too. This is just the beginning of a whole new way of life. Having a baby is going to change you in all the ways that matter. It will change you for the worse and the better. It will cause you to reach deep within and become more than you have ever been. But the changes won’t happen all at once, and some will be so subtle you won’t even notice them happening. If you do notice, just rest in knowing that change is okay.
Everyone will tell you to enjoy this time. They grow up so fast. Please, mama, don’t worry about how fast he’s growing. Don’t fixate on how his clothes fit today compared to how they fit last week. Learn not to listen when people tell you how big he is. Don’t mourn the last time you swaddle him or the last time he sleeps in the bassinet. There are so many beautiful, sweet firsts still ahead. The first giggle, the first time he falls over while learning to sit up, the first time he grabs your hand and touches your face. The first open-mouthed slobbery kiss. The first adorable words and first choppy, haltering sentences. Just be there with him to see, hear, and feel it all. Find a way to be okay with and celebrate his growth.
Give yourself grace.
You’re not going to be able to capture every moment. And that’s okay. The important part is that you are there! Every photograph you take of your child is one less moment they are in your arms. It’s okay if you don’t have perfect monthly photos with belly stickers (what child cooperates for all 12 months anyway!?) or a video of every first. Learn to remember with your heart and be content.
You’re not always going to make the right choices. You won’t always “win” at being a mom. But that doesn’t make you a bad mom. Sometimes you might yell when you should have knelt down and just talked to your toddler. Sometimes you might spank out of anger. Apologize when you’re wrong and forgive yourself. Maintain a childlike, teachable spirit. And remember, your child will teach you new things every day, just as you teach him.
Some days you might feel like what you’re doing doesn’t matter. All the time spent sweeping the floors, wiping down the counters, doing laundry is futile because it’s all waiting again tomorrow. But your child sees you. He sees how hard you’re working, and the hugs and kisses, the “good job mommys,” the snuggles, and the running into your arms with big smiles will make it all worth it.
You will struggle. It’s not going to be easy. You won’t be able to get it all done every day. Being a mom is hard. You weren’t meant to do it alone. You may develop postpartum depression just as you feared. But it will not break you. You are strong and nothing that is truly rewarding comes easily. The nostalgia will be thick, and you will often find yourself clinging to the little quiet moments, willing them to last just a little longer. Bringing life into this world is painful. Raising and shaping a child and watching him constantly change is painful. But it is every bit as beautiful as it is painful. This child is yours. And no one else gets to be this child’s mother. Only you get to have this divine calling, only you will be “Mama,” the most beautiful word you will ever hear.
Don’t compare yourself. Learn to distance yourself from other moms who put on the pressure. Do not go into this journey with too firm a picture of how you want to mother. You will learn as you go, and that’s okay. It’s okay to be the hot mess mom as long as everyone is happy and healthy. And if they’re not, it’s okay to ask for help. You don’t have to be the best in every way. If you have to make frozen meals for dinner in order to keep everyone fed and be present, then do it. Don’t worry about the dishes in the sink or the dust bunnies multiplying under the couch. Rest, hold your baby. Snuggle him to sleep and don’t you dare feel guilty for a second. Don’t let anyone (even yourself) steal your joy.