February 21, 2013

A Letter To Myself as a New Mom



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?

45 comments:

  1. This is one I know I'm going to have to come back and read...our first little one is due in less than 8 weeks and while I am beyond excited, I know I will need this wise advice. Often.

    Thank you :)

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  2. So beautiful. And about those twins . . . yea, don't skip those chapters. We have some coming. Were you able to breastfeed them? I think that's what I'm most nervous about right now.

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    1. Sonia, yes I was able to breastfeed them. We had to use a small amount of formula in the beginning (two ounces each after every second nursing, i think) because they were too weak to suck efficiently enough to bring in more milk. But after a few weeks of that they were breasfeeding exclusively. We had a great nurse practitioner who was also a lactation consultant who helped and encouraged us. So don't be scared, it is absolutely possible to breastfeed twins. And find help if you need it :)

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    2. Hi Sonia, I also breastfed my twins exclusively after a very similar start that Kelly described with hers. if you have any struggles, the earlier you seek support the better and stick with it if you can. Breastfeeding was so much quicker and easier than preparing those bottles, it really does get easier. Also, the health benefits for the 3 of you are also very positive.

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  3. I could have almost written this myself. :) I'm a twenty-two year old mum of a two year old and I have learned more about myself than I ever could have learned if I hadn't become a mother, but apparently I have much more to learn! This was such an uplifting read. Thank you.

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  4. Beautiful. Big tears streaming down my face! "Stop. Smile. Start again" is something I really needed to hear, thank you.

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  5. Love this!! I was twenty when I had my first, but in some ways I think I was better at doing what I thought was right then, it was with subsequent babies that I started second-guessing myself -- and then coming back to what was instinct.

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    1. Loved this comment... such a warning to me now! You're so insightful, Joy.

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  6. Beautifully written and beautifully true. I am learning to be a mom, and I find it more wonderful and more difficult at the same time than I ever thought. It's good to hear other people say out loud (or write) what I feel, in spite of many popular beliefs. I will nurse, I will cuddle, I will hold him, I will do my best to stop and smile, even when people tell me that I should switch to formula, let him cry, not carry him around so much, tell him off when he's misbehaving. Thank you.

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  7. Beautifully written, a must read for every new mum.

    Sue xx

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  8. Beautiful. Love them all.
    That last one made me chuckle... because I skipped all those chapters too. So far only singlets...

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  9. As a mom of four who just celebrated #3's 20th birthday, I wholeheartedly concur with all said- even the part about twins although we only had one at a time ;-) this was a sweet piece that I hope new moms will all read. The time does indeed fly- it seems just yesterday my kids and I were doing crafts or reading our "breakfast book"- a book the kids would pick out for me to read a chapter every morning during breakfast. My 18 year old just asked if I would be making dress-up clothes for the grandchildren when they come (not too soon, but eventually). We need to be sure to enjoy all the stages of life with our precious children & this was a terrific reminder!

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  10. Absolutely beautiful and oh-so-true!! (:

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  11. The first time my son had a meltdown at a store, I picked him up, started crying myself, and just walked out as I apologized to people along the way.

    Now, this happens every couple months when we go to the store and he's really tired because he missed a nap or something.
    But I've learned to get down, hug him, talk to him, wipe his tears and bear through it calmly because it's not his fault, it's mine. And he is also more important than any other stranger.
    I have learned that letting him go to the store in his halloween costume, is totally fine and fun.
    My DH also told me to stop apologizing to people at the store. He said "you're the one with two kids, they can go around you".
    And, I promise, my kids are really well behaved in public... everyone has bad days though.

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  12. Every time I read your blog I think, "I want more of this!" Thank you for your honest, thoughtful writing.

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  13. I love this post, I should try writing letters to younger versions of me (even tho I don't have babies yet)! what a beautiful letter!

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  14. Aw. Thanks for sharing. All of these things are so true. I needed to read this today!

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  15. I love this post. It's so true that when we are old(er), we will look back on being a parent in such a different light. It's so hard to give ourselves grace at the time, but so important.

    I would tell myself to not try to be my kids' friend... as in, to not worry if they won't like me for disciplining them. They need me to be their mom, not their friend.

    PS:
    Incidentally I have been trying a similar tactic to your 'stop, smile, and try again'... When feeling crabby that I'm in the kitchen yet again, or stressed about housework, or frustrated about the behaviour of one or another of my little ones, I have been telling myself to just put a smile on my face, and it really works.

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  16. Lovely, thank you for sharing.

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  17. I love this. I think I would write a similar letter.

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  18. Beautiful. Wish someone had said that to me before I became a mother. I knew all this by the time my second came along, but it would have been wonderful to know BEFORE I became a mother. I hope moms-to-be take this to heart.

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  19. This. All of it. Beautifully done. Brava.

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  20. This was absolutely beautiful. I had my first baby when I was 21... I am now 26, I have 4!!! I love being a mama more than anything in the whole world! When i get frustrated, I remind myself that they won't stay small forever. When they are begging me to read them one more book, I remind myself that one day they will be all grown up and won't be able to crawl into my lap and share a story. I love to look at their little hands... they are beautiful to me- Love the picture you chose for this post! :) You're such a good mama and an inspiration to us all!!! <3

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  21. Thank you for this. My husband and I hope to start a family later this year. I am excited and terrified at the prospect of having a small human dependent on me. I don't think that any of us (hopeful mom-to-be's, expectant moms, new moms,experienced moms) sometimes need to be reminded of just how precious these tiny gifts truly are!

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  22. Why ya gotta make me cry?! =o)
    So beautifully written.

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  23. I could have written this letter to myself :-) With a two year old and a 5-month old, the "Stop. Smile. And try again." method really helps.

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  24. Oh you wonderful, delightful mother you!

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  25. Gosh I wish we could all receive letters from our future selves back when we most needed the reassurance.

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  26. As a new mom I wish I would of known about Jesus.. But Thank God I know Him now!!

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  27. My dear Kelly, you are wise beyond your years. No wonder in your family photo your husband looks at you with such loving eyes. My babies were twins and they will be 34 next month. I had two kids before them but none after.
    You do a wonderful job with this blog and I thoroughly enjoy it. You are the kind of person who makes the world a better place.
    Cyber hugs going your way.....

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  28. I was a wreck at housekeeping but spent a lot of time cooking meals . I also nursed 4 children . with all the self doubt we have as mothers i hope my daughter as well as other mothers read this article from time to time.Mothers need to know that housework will be there tomorrow so relax and enjoy the little ones for as long as we can.

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  29. Kelly, you are so great at sharing these deep thoughts. Every mom should read this! Im a mom of a girl (4 y) and a boy (2 y) and they make every day even a greater gift in our lives.
    I love reading your blog!

    God bless you and your family. Thanks for all your words.
    Hugs from Brazil.
    Marcella

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  30. So...I'm going to have to respectfully ask you to take down that baby-hand picture because I've looked at it 5 times and each time it makes me want another baby.

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  31. Thank you for another beautiful post, Kelly! I am 14 weeks preggo with our first, so this was perfect timing for me, thank you for being willing to share!
    At some point I would also love to get a list from you of baby and nursing items you've found to be essential. It can be a little overwhelming to start thinking of what I'm going to need, when I'm working full-time and don't like shopping at the best of times; I'd appreciate any tips you can give! Thanks again! x

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  32. I wish that I could go back and tell 19 year old me that it was okay to be scared because in 16 years time you're going to have the most amazing couple of teenagers, and that the judgemental looks I got for being so young were other people's problem not mine.

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  33. I needed this! I am a new Mom....and again I say I NEEDED this.
    Thank you!

    Lindsay

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  34. My friend sent me a text to this link and I cried. It was so amazing to think that someone else knows how I feel. I started following your blog after reading this and I Love it. Thank you

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  35. I just found your blog today from Pintrest, and haven't stopped reading it! All of your posts are a joy to read, and the fact that your faith shines through it without anything really being said inspires me to be a better daughter of God. Thank you for sharing your feelings and thoughts with us and saying things that so many people need to hear. These precious years with our babies slip away too fast to be stressed. I really needed to be reminded :) Thank you again.

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