Ever since baby #2 arrived over 10 years ago I have had this desire to write a book called, "I was a really good mom before I had kids". It was going to be filled with funny stories and anecdotes that I have heard mothers tell over the decade and a half of being a mom and midwife. I love to joke about motherhood because, well when you nurse, are pregnant or have a toddler for almost 14 years STRAIGHT, a little humor is needed.
Before having kids I worked as a midwife, a nanny, a teacher, and several different programs with teens. I love kids and was always great with them. Moms would come up to me and ask me how I got their children to behave so well, to sleep so well, to act so different than they do with them. I thought I was amazing; that I had a super power with kids and parenting was going to be E.A.S.Y for me, and then I had kids of my own. Mine didn't (and still don't) sleep, they have been known to hit each other, through tantrums in the middle of a store, yell.... you get it. For a few years I would beat myself up about these things. I wasn't doing it right, I couldn't figure it out, I wasn't a good mom, I had to try some new thing or book. After baby #3 I realized, the things that they do, DOES NOT make me a bad mom or make them bad kids, it just makes us all human. We are all learning and growing and that is NORMAL!
What I really wished I would have know BEFORE having kids is this
1. They don't come with instruction manuals. Yeah, I actually did know this but I thought if I read every book on the subject that would substitute. It doesn't. They are each unique and changing it up ALL THE TIME!!! Your intuition and connection to them is KEY and even then, YOU WILL MESS IT ALL UP sometimes.
2. Putting your oxygen mask on first SHOULD NOT just be a cute saying you hear but don't honor. We can all 'yes but' our way out of taking care of ourselves but parenting is a LONG HAUL and as much as we want to pour it all into those little bundles; if we don't pour it into us and recharge first we get burned out, overwhelmed and stressed!
3. Earplugs are THE BEST present anyone can give you. Forget cute baby clothes or the latest contraption; earplugs are where it's at. Not so that you ignore them!!! So that the sensory overload isn't how you react to them. Kids are loud, they are suppose to be loud, inside voice are great but for me the glee filled giggling of 4 kids is enough to send me over the edge.
4. Your heart will be pulled and tugged in a million directions. You want to do the best for them, to give them all you can but you can't and that's okay.
5. You will mess up....a lot. Don't judge yourself or other moms. Acknowledge your mistakes, say your sorries and truly love on you and other moms!
6. It's easy to be on the outside looking in; to offer advice, criticize, judge. What we all really need is someone to hear us and laugh, love and tell us that we aren't alone. We all struggle in some ways as parents and humans. #adultingishard
7. You may never sleep through the night again. Although I am told that this may just be a phenomenon in my house.
8. If you let them, your kids will help you transform in ways you never knew were needed or possible. Your personal growth, self development and evolution is spurred way more by kids than ANY self-help book or latest trend.
So now that I am deep into this parenting thing with kids in the teens, tween, and toddler stages. I no longer desire to write the book. What I realized is that I am a really good mom, that despite falling down sometimes, not always wanting to parent, I continue to show up for myself and for them. To learn, grow and be a good mom. I define what that looks like not anyone else.