The day I became a mother, everything seemed to make sense.
I had always dreamed of becoming a mother, and despite having a very difficult pregnancy wrought with morning sickness and depression, as soon as I held my sweet Jack for the first time, I knew what my purpose in this life was.
And then I came home from the hospital, and I realized I had no idea what was I was doing. Fortunately, my angel mother flew into town that very day, and she helped me through those emotionally charged first few weeks.
She made us dinner, held Jack during the night, and, most importantly, brought a giant bag of chocolate covered pomegranates.
I absolutely love this quote:
Life doesn’t come with a manual. It comes with a mother. – Author Unknown
I was fortunate enough to be born to a wonderful mother who has dedicated her life to her family. She always volunteered at school, came to all our activities, and even made a diligent effort to make sure she was home when we got home from school.
As I’ve become a mother, I have come to appreciate her even more. You never realize the sacrifices, struggles, and, more importantly, the joys a mother goes through until you become one yourself.
During my short four years of being a mother, I have gone through a lot of different trials and triumphs with my boys. Whenever I need advice, I turn to my mom. I love how she said this:
One day I realized that, as far as being a parent, I really was just learning as I went along, so why should I be so hard on myself for my less than perfect attempts at being a mother? Once I realized that, parenting really did get easier.
Now that I have earned the title of Grandma there are many things I can look back on and say “If only I had known that earlier!”
So, I recently asked my mom to help me come up with a list of things she wishes she knew before she had children – and these are things I’m finding I wish I had known a little earlier, too. I’ve combined our thoughts together, so I hope any new (or old) moms out there can learn from it).
This post has been sponsored by Pfizer Consumer Healthcare. All opinions are my own.
1. Baby books are not really necessary.
But you do need to have a journal or somewhere you write down things you don’t want to forget about your child. A blog is great–instagram is even easier. And everyone should order at least one of those eight dollar Chatbooks!
You think you won’t forget that day you walked into the kitchen and there was your toddler eating chicken bones out of the trash can with your dog, but if you don’t write it down somewhere you really will forget!
And there is nothing more fun than being able to take down a book and read to your child about himself when he comes to you and says “Tell me something funny I did when I was little.” He really doesn’t care how beautiful the baby book is if you haven’t recorded memorable stories about him in it.
2. Teething is No Fun
There is nothing about teething that is fun. And no matter how much YOU don’t like it and lose sleep over it, your baby is struggling even more. They can’t tell you what’s wrong. They don’t know what will make it feel better. All they know is that they want you.
You just have to roll with it. You may buy $30 worth of teething toys in desperation, only to have them throw all of them aside and select a popsicle stick instead.
And that’s okay. All of their teeth eventually come in, and you will all eventually get sleep. Soothe each other; maybe give a little bit of Infant’s Advil.
When Jack was a baby, I didn’t really even notice when he was teething. All of the sudden, new teeth just appeared; however, Oliver has been a little bit different. From a young age, he started constantly chewing on his hands (or anyone else’s hands!). My mom would often say she thought he was teething – and I think she was right.
Oliver also started grinding his teeth, which Jack never did. The sound was just too much, which is why we bought around $30 worth of teething toys. Too bad we didn’t try the popsicle stick first!
His teeth popped out much sooner than Jack’s did, and he certainly let us know they were coming. Thankfully, my mom taught me it’s okay to use some Infants’ Advil® to help soothe the pain. We aren’t in the business of making our kids suffer – especially as babies.”
3. Take pictures
But don’t just keep them on your phone or computer. Print some off that you can keep forever. My mom has a picture of her oldest granddaughter, Lexi, dressed up for the Fourth of July, sitting in a basket when she was just a year old.
Mom puts it out every July and when Lexi was here visiting recently she was delighted to see it. At fifteen, seeing a special picture of yourself displayed for all to see means only one thing—you were loved then and you are loved now. Your children will love seeing pictures of themselves in random places as well as special places of honor as they grow up.
4. Babies who will take a binkie are good. Thumbsuckers are better.
Call these babies self-soothers and let them be. A baby who can calm himself is a blessing. People will tell you that you shouldn’t give your baby a binkie or let them suck their thumb…but I sometimes wonder if those people have kids!
Once your baby starts teething, you will be so grateful if they have something that soothes them!
5. Don’t wait until your house is clean to let them have friends over.
Unless it truly looks like a bomb went off inside they won’t even notice; as long as you have cookies all is well.
Your children need friends to play with and you need to know their friends.
6. Be selective about what television shows or videos they watch.
There are lots of great programs for toddlers—Daniel Tiger and Doc McStuffins are two of the best. So choose wisely and just say no to ones that make you cringe (Yes, Caillou. I’m talking to you).
7. Keep puzzles and games with more than eight or nine pieces out of reach.
Only take them down when you can supervise unless you don’t mind puzzles with lots of missing pieces. And if you really like a game…keep it even further away. You’ll have plenty of time when your kids are teenagers for games with lots of pieces. Less is more when your kids are young!
8. Always keep a small bag of crackers or other appropriate snacks in your purse or diaper bag.
And always carry bandaids. Both of these habits will prevent and stop many tears. Trust me, there have been a few times we’ve gone to church without snacks.
Oh, and it’s okay to give your child popsicles when they’re teething or sprite when they are sick. A little sugar every now and then is okay (just don’t tell the Internet police ;-).
9. Read to your children.
Turn the pages slowly. Laugh at the funny things. Let them show you what pictures they like. It’s okay to turn more than one page at a time in a really big book. But let them sit in your lap or lay by your side and listen to you read them stories.
10. Let them dress themselves.
Unless it is picture day or maybe Church, it doesn’t really matter if their clothes match. What does matter is learning to be independent and make choices.
Even if they want to wear long sleeves and boots on a scorching hot day like Jack insisted on this summer. Just make sure you bring extra water if you go to the park!
11. Always remember that you are their hero.
Their world revolves around you. You don’t have to be, and cannot be, perfect. They love you anyway and their hearts break if they think you don’t love them. Teach them consistently that there is nothing they can do that will stop you loving them.
Motherhood changes you for the better. Even though I’ve only been a mother for a little over four and a half years now, I’ve experienced more joy and happiness than I thought possible.
Yes, there are the nights where you can’t seem to get the Advil container fast enough as your baby screams all night from teething.
Yes, there are days where you just wish your child would just wipe their bum on their own.
But there are far more days where your heart feels like it’s going to burst as you see your child take their first steps or scores their first soccer goal. You’ll want to say hallelujah when you see that first tooth pop through that was causing so many issues.
And more likely than not, you’ll look back on the good and bad times and wish time had gone just a little bit slower.
be sure to come back in a few weeks for 15 other things I’ve learned!
*This post has been sponsored by Pfizer Consumer Healthcare. All opinions are my own