When I was 26, my husband and I found out we were expecting our first child. I was terrified. There was no way I was old enough to be someone’s mom! I couldn’t remember the last time I held a baby. Babies were more like Monet paintings at that point in my life; they looked good from far away. I had anxiety, a lot of anxiety.
I can remember leaving the hospital in shock. The medical staff knew I had no idea what I was doing, yet they still handed me a baby and sent my husband and me on our way. These people even smiled and waved to our little family of three as we left the parking lot.
My “Mom Resume” clearly showed I was not qualified. I had a record of killing plants, but I did keep a fish alive for 6 months in college. None of the books I read on parenting left me feeling prepared. I had to keep a human alive with no supervision or training. No pressure, right?
As a new mom, I quickly discovered babies have no sense of time. Babies are no-limit soldiers when it comes to not sleeping and are oblivious to the dark circles under your eyes or that you just put formula in your coffee instead of creamer.
You are stumbling around in the dark trying to change them, and then they poop in their new diaper before you can even finish putting it on them. It also doesn’t help that babies can make dressing a 6 pound human feel like an Olympic sport.
I didn’t even know what tired was until I had kids. Funny enough, I naively believed having kids would make me a morning person. Nope. I was 100% wrong about that assumption.
Now I just have witnesses who can testify to my disdain for mornings. Currently, I am trying to figure out how much coffee it takes to wake up and be excited about the day. Apparently, 5 is not the correct amount.
Luckily, over time you develop a rhythm. Before you know it, you are practically changing diapers in your sleep. One night you will wake up in a panic and realize you haven’t heard your baby cry.
As you rush into the nursery, you will witness what feels like a miracle; your baby has figured out how sleeping works. This is the moment moms remember for the rest of their lives.
I can tell you what I was wearing, what time it was, and the current events happening around this monumental moment for all three of my kids. It’s that kind of moment!
Caring for your baby
I naively assumed I would know what my baby needed at all times. After all, we spent months together during my pregnancy. He knew what my heartbeat sounded like from within me. We were tight, weren’t we?
Fast forward to when my first child was born.
I am not sure who cried more those first few weeks, my baby or me. I felt like a failure for not instantly knowing why he was crying.
Overtime, I started doing a mental check list when he cried (e.g., diaper, hungry, sleepy, attention). If I reached the end of the list and still had no idea why he was crying, I changed his outfit and took him for a car ride. If he was going to cry, he might as well do it in style while jamming to lullabies.
Slowly, I started deciphering why he was crying. I had an idea of when he would get sleepy or hungry. Through trial and error, I discovered what brought him comfort (e.g., security blanket, pacifier, swaddled and rocked).
In the infant stage, you wish your baby could tell you what they want. In the toddler stage you wonder if your child has an off switch. Toddlers have a ton to say, but everything sounds the same. I left it inside sounds like an elephant died. Words that don’t even sound the same suddenly do.
But have no fear. While no one else may know what your child is saying, you will have some idea. I have successfully translated phrases that I am 99% sure were not in English. I have also smiled and nodded with my fingers crossed that I didn’t just agree to something I will regret.
The parenting books out there will make it seem like parenting is a one size fits all technique. After all, it worked for their kids and is super easy. Anyone can do it.
The author will claim their techniques will eliminate tantrums, have your child hanging on your every word, potty trained in 3 days, and read at age 2. These books belong in one of two places: the comedy section or my fireplace.
Parenting books always left me feeling inadequate when nothing they suggested worked. But I had to remind myself that these authors were not me. Their books were about their children, not mine.
Remember, YOU are writing YOUR own story filled with YOUR memories and adventures with YOUR family. It is okay if your motherhood journey is different from others. It’s supposed to be.
I love watching my kids grow into the individuals God intended them to be. I cannot even express my gratitude for my three blessings. There is not a single soul on this Earth like any of them, including their siblings. I often sit in awe of how three children from the same gene pool living in the same house can be so different. Let me elaborate further.
“If someone jumped off a building, would you do it too?”
Have you ever heard this expression? Well, this is how it would be at my house.
My oldest child would be standing there knowing it was a bad idea but was curious to see how it would turn out. 91 would be dialed on his phone just in case the situation needed further assistance.
My middle child would be the person who is jumping off of the building. He would somehow manage to stand up after landing, give a thumbs-up while grinning from ear to ear, and shout, “I’m okay!”
My youngest child would be dressed for the occasion, holding a clipboard, and delegating tasks for the roof gathering. An itinerary would have been drawn up and handed out ahead of time.
Every kid is entirely different from the next. You can parent your kids the same, but they will still be their own entirely different person. What works for one child may not work for your others. You just love them all and pray often, very often.
You are not alone
Let me tell you a secret. Are you ready? No one knows what they are doing. There are no instructions, and you just learn as you go via trial and error. It is okay to feel overwhelmed. The fact that you care is a good sign (or that is what I tell myself).
If you feel stressed, try taking some time for yourself. Moms with multiple kids only look laid back because we have been worn down.
My first child had a tab at the ER from constantly injuring himself while I was tending to his brother, who had chronic ear infections. My youngest had 3 eye surgeries, resulting in sensory issues and developmental delays in her milestones (e.g., crawling, sitting up, walking).
Despite being a veteran mom, I still felt like I had no idea what I was doing. You are not alone if you feel like you are just winging it. We all are.
I refer to moms who feel the need to be condescending as duck moms. Why? Ducks always look as if they are effortlessly floating on water, but just below the surface, they are paddling and kicking like crazy. What someone wants you to see on the surface is not always the whole picture.
The good news is your kids have no idea if you are doing this whole parenting thing “right.” They just know you love them and are there for them when they need you.
You don’t have to have all of the answers. You don’t have to be perfect! Just show up and be you!
Thanks for stopping by.