On Sunday, I watched Noah walk into his new Sunday School class. I’m not really the emotional type but he’s moved up into the bigger section and goes to a separate building to Tyla so he’s with all the primary school aged children – Grade R to Grade 6. I saw my boy walk into that hall, the shortest little guy by about 5 feet (I’m pretty sure that grade 6 boys are giants these days and this mommy is having heart palpitations), turn around and wave and say “bye mommy!” ~ just like that. And instantly, I was that new mom again. That unsure, cautious first time mom. Actually, I AM a first time mom. I’ve never parented a 5 year old before so yes. First time mom, it is.
I think it’s become more prevalent in my life because my brother and my sister-in-love are having their first baby next month. I can remember being a pregnant mommy and waiting for the baby to arrive and while Lindsey (my sister in love) is just beginning her journey, I’m entering a new phase of mine. That’s always quite scary. Just like giving birth and entering motherhood is life-changing, seeing the “birth” of your children into another stage is emotionally jarring as you birth a new phase of your parenting journey.
Lindsey ~ the first time mommy of a newborn.
Candice ~ the first time mommy of a 5 year old. Same but different.
Having said that, I sat back and thought about my experience so far so here are some thoughts on what I’ve learnt so far. I don’t profess to be the perfect mother by any means but there are points in this blessing-filled, crying-enveloped, hug-infested, love-dosed journey where these have meant a lot to me. I’m not saying I’ve got it right because I definitely don’t and my way isn’t the only way, that’s for sure – but here goes.
- Everybody will tell you “It goes so quickly, enjoy every stage and every minute.” Yes, it does go quickly but I promise you, you won’t enjoy every moment. It’s just not possible. You’ll have days where you feel like you’re going to fall apart and you do, in a big way. There will be days where you will hate every second. That’s ok. It’s not meant to be easy and it’s ok to admit that.
- You’ll hear “sleep when the baby sleeps” – I have never met a mother who’s got this right. I never did. If my daughter was sleeping, she’d think that 15 minutes at a time was about enough. In that time, I’ve just actually re-heated my cup of tea (yes I’m still in my pajamas) and I’m about to drink it while sterilising the bottles. Before I can even vaguely think about even sitting down, let alone sleep, my child is awake. Moms operate on minimal sleep with a smile most days. You’ll be totally fine!
- The other day I was in a baby shop and I was floored. I only had my last baby nearly 4 years ago and there are another 3546 gadgets you can buy for your child since then! You honestly don’t need all that stuff ~ your child will grow up and be the most amazing, happy child even if you don’t have the best baby gym with original Frozen characters that sings Do You Wanna Build A Snowman? everytime you push Olaf’s nose. Noah’s favourite toy was an old apple box from the fruit shop. Go figure.
- Pick your battles. With your kids and with your man. You’re going to be so tired so you can end up grilling your husband about something totally ridiculous (been there, done that) and when you look back, IT IS completely ridiculous. Before you rage, take a step back and think about it. With your kids too. I’ve learnt this the hard way.
- Work at your own pace. My son gave up his dummy at 5 years old. So what? I had loads of people tell me that he’s way too old to still sleep with a dummy. Hey, he only had it at night and it lived under his pillow. The minute he went to bed, out it came and he slept like that. In my eyes, that’s not a big deal. In his time, Noah said “Mom I don’t need this dummy. We can give it to the elf babies.” And he and his sister left their dummy and bottle in the garden for the elves to fetch. Forcing him to do it earlier wouldn’t have achieved anything except he’d have been younger. Just because the world dictates milestones, doesn’t mean you have to enforce those with your kids. Your child will develop and grow how he/she is supposed to.
- Trust your mommy intuition. It’s basically always right.
- Accept help. Of course, everyone wants to be super hero mom but you can’t do it alone. You’ll burn out. Take help and accept it gladly whenever it’s offered, from people you trust.
- Don’t be hard on yourself. Your child will never be like anyone else’s and just because your child isn’t sleeping through the night at 8 months, doesn’t mean that’s your fault. Comparing your child to anyone else’s doesn’t achieve anything but mom-stress. What messes with our heads the most is how we think it’s supposed to be. Be confident in the way you choose to parent your babies.
- Eating sand, running in the muddy puddles in a Spiderman suit or wearing your gum boots to the mall is cool. Cultivate the explorer in your children. Let them experience. Let them get dirty. Don’t be a mom that stops them from trying new things.
- Be an example to your kids. I’ve often found myself disciplining my children and then taking a step back and realising that I do the same thing, yet I tell them not to do it. I heard it said that life doesn’t come with a manual, it comes with a mom. We’re the blueprint they work off in learning how to react, how to behave, how to deal with emotions, how to express emotions.
- We should always have the courage to admit when we’re wrong and say sorry.
- We can NEVER hug, kiss or tell them you love them enough. Never stop.
- Let your kids surprise you. They are more capable than we think. That happened to me on Sunday with Noah at Sunday school. I expected him to come running back to me and have me walking in holding his hand. Alas. I was shut down! 🙂 Give your kids the opportunities to show how they’ve grown, even if that means they don’t need you as much anymore. Be proud of that. They know you’re always there when you need them but have the courage to let them go. It’s harder than it sounds, believe me.
- Be honest about your struggles. Other moms will appreciate that.
- This is the MOST important thing I can tell you ~ always remember, you are their mother first and their friend second. That might be choosing the harder road sometimes and it hurts but you’re their mother first, before you’re their friend.
The birth of a child is also the birth of a mother. Miraculous as it is, motherhood is ours at every stage and at every age. Motherhood is difficult. I sometimes feel like loads of moms pretend like it isn’t. Believe me, it is. On the days that you think you just aren’t shaping up, remember this:
“ No matter how busy or difficult your life gets, never forget:
To your little people, your kisses stop pain, your voice defeats monsters and your hugs make the world right again.”
Nobody can ever take that away from you. Ever.
Motherhood has been my greatest character shaper. Funny how the littlest people teach us the greatest things. What a privilege to have a front row seat ~ whether you’re a first time mom of a newborn, or a first time mom of a 5 year old like me. Either way, we’re both rookies thrown in the deep end, and that’s where we learn the most.
See you in the trenches, fellow mommy warriors. Chin up. One day we’ll drink HOT tea together and wish our babies fitted in our arms again. At least we know for sure, they’ll never outgrow our hearts.