I have always liked kids. I was the number one babysitter on my street, a second mom to my little brother and worked at a daycare for my summer jobs. No one was surprised when I graduated college with an Early Childhood degree. After you graduate and teach for a while, you definitely become the expert on kids - or so I thought. I would even stop moms with screaming toddlers at the grocery stores and give them tips on “positive reinforcement." I am very sorry. I loved giving parenting “advice” to those who were close because I was the expert…
Now, after 4 kids, I realize that I knew nothing and I am so thankful to those wonderful people in my life who didn’t smack me upside the head with all my philosophies on child-rearing. Here are a few things I learned along the way:
It’s not about you anymore: Were you wanting to take a long bath and paint your nails? Too bad. The kids got into the oatmeal and ground it into the carpet. Were you going to sleep in on Saturday because you watched the entire Twilight Saga on Friday night? Nope, the baby is awake at 6 and she wants to eat and play. Being a mom is selfless. It’s not about you at all. You give and give and give and then they want more, and you are absolutely happy to do it all because you love your kids.
It’s not as easy as you expect: Before I had my girls, I took a class on nursing twins. It was wonderful. We had little baby dolls that we could nurse at the same time to practice and it was so much fun (and easy). I was dumbfounded when I found out how hard nursing really is. You don’t just put them on, or at least I didn’t. They were small, had trouble latching making it a hard and painful experience at times. I almost gave up. No one told me that it takes a while to get into the groove of nursing, so I was totally thrown off when my expectation wasn’t met. Then you think you are the expert because you successfully nurse twins, but then my next baby was born and it was hard again- I couldn’t believe it!
I have found out with each one of my kids that it’s not as easy as it looks. You can have theories on all of it but when it gets down to it- it can be tough.
Don’t compare your family to anyone else’s family: This is the reason I do not love Facebook. I know, I am the only person in the world who doesn’t have a profile. I did, but it messed with me. Everyone posted all these amazing things they did or made and I felt bad that I wasn’t living their life. It got really bad when I saw pictures that other people posted of the flowers their amazing husband would send them each week and I started getting mad at my husband when he didn’t bring home flowers every day. His response was, "Is it our anniversary?” HA!
With social media or just mom talk we can start comparing ourselves and our families to everyone around us and it can make you feel like you aren’t matching up. My family is different than every other family out there and we are going to do thing differently, and that is okay.
There is no off switch: When you are a mom, it never ends. When your child wakes up in the middle of the night throwing up, you are on. When your child scrapes his knee while you are cooking, you have to help him and hope your food doesn’t burn. It is constant!
My husband and I are so fortunate to be surrounded by wonderful babysitters who let us go out by ourselves (along with the nursing baby). It is so nice to get a couple hours with just my husband, but throughout dinner all we want to talk about is the kids, and by the end of the 3 hours or whatever, we are so excited to be together as a family again. There is no off switch, but even when you do get one for a night and you have no responsibility, you can’t wait to get home to take the responsibility back on - it is so weird!
The experts keep changing their mind: When my grandma was having her kids in the 50s, formula was considered healthier for babies than breast milk. When my mom had her babies, they put babies in their cribs on their sides, never used an epidural and filled their babies cribs with bumper pads and blankets. Now, you can find an expert supporting anything - probably even giving birth hanging upside down in a palm tree. When I was having my twins, I was a single mom and I heavily felt responsibly weighing on me and it was overwhelming. My very wise pediatrician told me to stop worrying so much and trust myself. I had everything inside of me that I needed to take care of my babies and reading every expert would drive me crazy. I am so thankful to this day for his advice. Women have been having babies since the beginning of time and they all did it successfully, so hopefully I am doing it successfully too.
Stay at home moms don’t lay around all day eating bon bons and watching TV: As a stay at home mom, I have feelings of guilt when I sit down and relax for a couple minutes. I think, "Oh I should use these minutes and make a grocery list or email the teacher." All my friends who work think that I just go on play-dates and sing songs with my babies all day. That is not true. I also read a study recently that said working mom spend more quality time with their children then SAHM, and I believe it! When you are with them all day, you get so busy with stuff (laundry, shopping, cleaning, library visits, volunteering in the classroom, cooking…). You have to make a conscious effort to be WITH your kids. After reading that study, I started making myself just sit down and read a book or play with them and I realized I really wasn’t doing it at all before.
Every conflict is not going to be resolved in a half hour: Remember Full House? Whenever anything happened: lying, stealing, cheating, making out - it was all resolved by the end of the show. Then, everyone hugged and no one held a grudge and it was perfect. Well that doesn’t happen in real life. There aren’t quick fixes to bullies on the bus or a speech delay. Everything is a process that you just have to live out.
It is also a shock the day you realize that your kids aren’t perfect. You have to train them to be kind and truthful. We are responsible to teach them the wonderful character traits that make an adult easy to work with and fun to be around. It doesn’t just happen with one conversation; I am learning that it is a long process which requires a lot of practice and patience.
Its forever: When you are in middle of it, it feels like forever. You do not see the light of the end of the tunnel. I just want to go to the bathroom by myself without a two year old finding me and insisting on sitting on my lap. I write this because this is what my granny always tells me: It feels like forever when you are doing it, but it does go so fast and I believe her. I remember how hard 3 a.m. feedings were with the twins. I would nurse one and bounce one in the bouncer with my foot - that was hard, and now it is a memory and I have to beg them to sit in my lap for five minutes. So I guess what I am saying (to myself) is enjoy every second. Cherish every precious moment with your kids because it does go so fast and then they are grown up and want to get their ears pierced. *sniff