Dear twenty two year old me,
You don't know this yet, but motherhood has changed you. There are some changes that are obvious; your sleep patterns, how you spend a Saturday night, your body. But you've changed in ways you won't see for a while yet. The things you fear, the things you laugh at, the songs you hum while doing the dishes. You will never again be the person you once were, and that's okay.
Don't let anybody tell you not to pick up your baby when she cries. You won't spoil her, she needs you. And don't let anyone make you feel guilty for putting her down while you take a shower or brew some coffee. She needs a mom who can care for herself.
Breastfeed wherever you want. Stop asking permission, nobody cares. It turns out that you are going to be nursing for the better part of the next six years anyways, so you may as well learn to be comfortable with it now.
Show yourself some grace. Your kids don't need a perfect mom, they need a real mom who can laugh at herself, learn from her mistakes, and ask for forgiveness. And while you're at it, stop worrying about what other people think. Nobody is judging you because your toddler is having a grocery store melt down. Get over it, move on. We've all been there.
Don't shout at your children. I know that sounds like crazy advice as you hold this perfect tiny-toed person, but there will be days of exhaustion and frustration and all of a sudden you will hear an awful ugly tone in your own voice. Stop. Smile. Try again. Teach your children to control their emotions by controlling your own. And remember to show yourself some grace in this.
Stop. Smile. And try again.
Start creating things with the kids as soon as they can hold a pen. Let them feel the joy and beauty and potential of a crisp white sheet of paper ready to be created on. Hang their artwork on the fridge, say thank you for the 110th card they've made for you, buy them craft supplies instead of toys.
Please don't stress over potty training. It turns out that there is actually no correlation between the age your child is potty trained and the quality of your parenting.
Make time for cuddles. The truth is you don't have enough time not to cuddle.
Sing even though you are awful at it. Occasionally stop what you're doing to have dance parties in the living room. Be silly.
Cry. And don't be ashamed of it. Crying releases stress hormones, and you have a lot of stress to release.
Back up the photos on your hard drive. You'll be glad you did. And write down the funny things the kids say. These years really do fly by.
One more thing.... You know those chapters on twins in all of those parenting and pregnancy books? The chapters you skip over because twins don't seem even remotely possible? Read those chapters. Trust me.
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What did I miss? What do you wish you'd known as a new mom?