There is a special place in my heart for new moms. I’m jealous of the warm snuggles and the peace of a sleeping baby. And that smell. Oh, I miss that baby smell. But, I know that being a new mom isn’t just snuggles, sleeping babies, and sweet smells.
There’s the realization that your body is no longer your own. There are sleepless nights and days. There are the not-so-pleasant smells of spit up and dirty diapers. And there is laundry. Everywhere. (Who knew one tiny little human could create so much filth?) There are days without a shower. There’s the attempt to recover who you were and accept who you are. Being a new mom is hard: physically, emotionally, and mentally. That’s why we take her meals, offer to babysit so she can grab a nap, and happily do anything that helps relieve the burdens of a new mom.
When baby number two comes along, we relinquish the title of new mom and accept the expectations of someone who has been there, done that. But the older my kids get and the longer I’ve been a mom, the more I realize that I have not lost that title.
I’m a new mom, too.
Yes, I have four children; the oldest is 11 and the youngest is two. No, I am not expecting another. Still, I am a new mom.
I am new to talking to my daughter about puberty and changes in her body. I’m new to helping her understand how to treat her body well with the food she eats and activity she does. I’m new to explaining sex and how God’s view of it is different from what the world presents. I’m new to answering questions that make me squirm. I’m new to letting go and giving her independence. I’m new to straddling the line between overprotective and permissive.
I’m new to teaching my oldest boy how to compete for Christ. I’m new to making decisions about just how many sports he will be able to handle. And whether or not my little boy is ready for (what seems to me) the scary world of full contact football. I’m new to hearing unexpected words come out of his mouth and not knowing the right way to explain them. I’m new to worrying about what he could innocently come across while searching for Minecraft videos on YouTube. I’m new to figuring out how to protect but not shelter him.
I’m new to fighting the urge to compare the milestones of my almost-Kindergartner to those of his older siblings as I help him learn letters and sounds. I’m new to keeping him busy with activities that don’t involve a screen. I’m new to jumping in the middle of brother fights where fists and legs swing at me, too. I’m new to teaching them how brotherly love looks and feels.
I’m a new mom learning to navigate the world with a toddler right beside me all the time. When my others were toddlers, I left them with the babysitter every day, but with my youngest, I’m a stay-at-home mom. I’m new to navigating through the guilt of not playing with her because I’m busy around the house or sitting her in front of a screen so I can squeeze in a shower. I’m new to being on call 24 hours a day to meet the needs of my kids and husband. I’m new to being paid in hugs, smiles, and messy hands rather than a monthly check.
Though I’ve changed countless diapers, I’ve breastfed and bottle fed, I’ve sent three out the door for first days of school and have one more I’m holding onto at home, I’m still a new mom. I could use some grace during this parenting thing. I mess up daily. The experiences of past motherhood hasn’t prepared me for every new situation. Surrounded by new moms with their new babies, I may look like an old pro who has been there and done that, but the truth is I’m just as new. Because with each new stage, I start the mom thing all over again.
There are more new mom moments ahead of me. I know because I watch my new mom friends encounter them. New moms counting the seconds until their teenager walks through the door for curfew. New moms going through pictures for a graduation scrapbook missing the little boy who used to be. New moms shopping for the perfect dress to walk her youngest son down the aisle. New moms learning how to best support their daughter who is preparing for her own title of new mom.
So to the new moms with new babies, the new moms with teens, the new moms with phases all between, and the new moms with grown children, let’s do this new mom thing together. Let’s give non-judgmental advice when asked. Let’s send notes of encouragement to give each other the strength to face whatever new phase we’re entering. Let’s bring each other casseroles, or chocolate, or wine. Let’s listen to each other describe just how hard parenting is without diminishing the struggles.
And let’s understand that the title of new mom is something we never lose. No matter how many kids we have or how old they are, we become new moms over and over again.