What didn't you know/or wish you knew about motherhood?
One of the first things that comes to mind was what an enormous task it is. You think “I want to have a baby” but you forgot that these little babies are going to grow up, or hopefully have a chance to grow up and its going to come with a lot of developmental change. It doesn’t matter how many children you have you are never prepared for the new things they are experiencing. It is a really serious big job!. I always stress it is undervalued and underappreciated. The extent of what goes into being a parent is not given enough attention or credit. Mothers birth other mothers, leaders, everyone came from some being’s womb. That’s how we all got here. With all of our differences, we have that in common. I still don’t feel prepared for the enormity of the extent of motherhood and being a parent.
For some people, the enormity doesn’t increase with more kids but does expand. It continues through life it doesn’t stop when the child reaches a certain age. You are still connected and tied to this huge enormous, undertaking or overtaking of connection with other beings.
A parenting hack
Transition. Allowing children time for transition and allowing effective time. I used to set a kitchen timer when it was time for my kids to make a transition. Some people looked at it like I was being a drill sergeant. I explained that the visual or auditory stimulation reminds their brains that they were just told that in 5 minutes we are going to do something else. If I just say “in 5 minutes”, they will say “Oh no that was not 5 minutes, that is too fast” If they see and hear the timer they can hear and see that it was already 5 minutes. It works! There is very little push back when they hear and see it themselves.
I would highly recommend that to other parents. It also takes the accountability and responsibility off of the parent, and it puts it on them since they can see the clock ticking down. Some timers have the red light when it is ticking down, and red is often the sign of “stop” for young children. Some adults I’ve shared this with have also said it is helpful for them as adults and their transitioning to different activities.
Postpartum self to pregnant self
I would tell my pregnant self to take it easy. A lot of stuff comes up in pregnancy and you feel like you have to get all of the answers, but really you should take it easy. The answers are going to come when you don’t even realize it. I don’t connect with the cliché “get all the sleep you can.” In postpartum, your sleep really goes up and down. Give yourself grace and give yourself all the time you need. We say we should take care of yourself, sometimes we say we don’t know how. But it can be really simple like getting a drink of water or having a snack.
3 words to describe experience
Challenging. Exhausting and Special.
Advice to new moms
Be gentle with yourself. It’s ok to explore different things. It’s ok to not know or feel like you don’t know something. It’s ok to accept assistance from others, you don’t have to do it all. It’s ok to share what you are experiencing whether its uncertainty, sadness or that you’re not feeling the way you thought you would feel after having a baby. Maybe you were looking for the elated over the moon feeling, but it just didn’t come after birth. It’s ok if you don’t want to share. If you can enjoy it, then that’s great, and if you’re not enjoying it, that’s ok too. If you can and want to you can share or journal about it so you don’t have to feel alone. It can be very isolating, whether you’re breastfeeding or chestfeeding or bottle-feeding. If you feel like you are doing so much and you’re not used to asking for help or accepting assistance, or don’t want to let people know that you are having a hard time. It’s ok. And your ok. You’re going to go through a lot physically, emotionally, your body won’t look the same. Sometimes our expectations about our body might not happen, or their can be grief about no longer being pregnant, or everybody is giving the baby attention and not addressing you. I would just say all of it is ok and if it's not, it's ok to express yourself and share with someone else.