As my heart leaped to my throat at the first glimpse of that faint pink line surfacing on the First Response pregnancy test early that morning all I wondered was How in the world am I going to be a mom?!
I was just barely an adult myself at 19. Though I had dreamed of this very day since I was a little girl playing with baby dolls, the reality of the real deal scared me to death.
The pressure was officially on. I had to get this parenting thing right.
A beautiful nursery, all the baby gear, pregnancy books, and parenting theories. I knew I was going to breastfeed for an entire year. This child would never see a fast-food French fry. We would thrive on strict schedules. Potty training would be complete by 18 months and temper tantrums would just be someone else’s nightmare. I would handle everything just fine.
Five kids later . . . I have had to eat giant slabs of humble pie more times than I care to admit. Which sacred rule of mine did I break first? I have lost so much sleep, I will never remember.
This is for you, young mom: Don’t hold those expectations too tightly.
Everyone is a top-notch, got it together kind of parent until they actually have kids of their own.
Instead of getting all caught up in current trends and the futility of self-sufficiency, learn to enjoy the moment. The old saying that babies don’t keep is one of the truest things you’ll ever hear.
A perfectly clean, Instagram-worthy home decked out in the latest baby things and toys should be a lot lower on the priority list and simply being content with this sometimes messy and chaotic season of life should be much nearer to the top. If keeping up appearances is more important than being a happy momma, then there are some things that need to change.
I wished I had learned early on that parenting is all about imparting love and embracing all the moments, rather than making my own ideal life. I had to give up trying to be that fictitious “mother of the year.”
Once the baby arrived, the nursery was just for looks because the recliner in momma’s arms became baby’s choice place to sleep. From my trials, I have learned to just feed the baby when my nursing hopes got shattered. I have learned that a baby will sleep through the night and potty train when they’re good and ready. I learned a French fry or two won’t hurt anybody. I even learned to keep pushing that grocery cart through a tantrum with my head up.
I have also learned to say a prayer for a fellow mom amid her own toddler’s store meltdown rather than condescendingly saying what she could do better.
I’ve learned that most mommas are struggling with similar overzealous ambitions and overwhelming insecurities, so we need to take every opportunity to lift one another up. We can build a community of support rather than staying isolated in our own little made-up bubble, pretending we’ve got it all together.
It’s really OK to let go and just live.
Choosing contentment is not settling for the second-best—it’s just consciously choosing to make the best of the current situation. Most everyone already knows keeping up with babies is one of the hardest jobs in the entire world, so cut yourself some slack and know you’re doing the best you can. Start savoring the days like your favorite coffee because before you know it, they’ll be gone.