My two little sisters are about to become Mom, and is has me thinking about the changes motherhood brought to my life. I remember being in the delivery room and my midwife was passing to me my new little bundle. My first thought was 'Oh my goodness, we have a baby.' Then three days later when we brought Kai home, I thought 'What do we do now?' Although I have always wanted children, I had never really thought about how much my life would change.
Yes, there were so many things to learn about being a mother to my new son, but I have learned so much about myself as well. I have learned about balance, about letting go, about my life priorities, about patience, about slowing down to simply enjoy the moments. Am I an expert at any of these things? No, but I am present to them in a whole new way. I had no choice but to be present to them. Although this accelerated learning was at times exasperating and exhausting, and so many tears were shed that I could have provided the world's supply of water had there been no salt in them, alongside these moments I have grown into a stronger, more centred woman.
So, when asked for advice for a new mom-to-be, I started thinking about the important things...
Do what you need to do - We want to be good parents, so we try to do our best by our children, but the best is open to interpretation. So many people, some given 'expert' status, have strong opinions about the right way to do things. However, in the end, only we know what is best for us, our children, and our families. This was a hard lesson for me to learn, and at times, I'm still learning it. Our friends and families are always there to give us ideas and opinions, but we are the ones home all day and up all night with our wee ones, and it takes a tremendous amount of belief in ourselves to simply say 'This is what works for us right now', even if we are not sure. For we are never really sure. Life is a series of trials and errors, adventures and successes, and we only ever know if they are the right choice after we have thought about them and given them a try. So do what you need to do until something works better. And no matter what you do, you are doing the best you can.
Sleep - get in anywhere, anytime and as much as possible. Your body, mind and emotions have never been through so much change in such a short period. You need to take care of yourself in order that you are able to take care of your little one. It was not easy for me to sleep much during the day when my child slept as I felt there was too much to do, but looking back I wish I had rested more. Food you can always order in or make pasta (or ask close family and friends to bring you meals, it gives them a way to help out that they are looking for), and the house will make it through another day without a vacuum. You have the rest of your life to 'do'. For these precious times, just 'be.'
Take time for yourself - One of the biggest transitions for me as a mother, beyond the total reliance of another human being on me (which is the topic for a whole other write), was the number of roles that seemed to come with maternity leave. By giving birth to a child and staying home, suddenly you are thrust into cook, housecleaner, personal shopper, and errand runner. You make most of the daily decisions about raising your child, as you are home alone with him or her the majority of the time. This is a lot of responsibility. Not that you have to do it alone. If you have a great partner, all these roles will be discussed and everyone will play their part. Perhaps there is a hormonal shift that arrives with Motherhood that makes you want to return to everything homemade and natural. All of a sudden, I wanted to make my own organic, balanced meals, learn to can, grow my own food, sew, knit, bake and become an all-round superstar. Who has time or energy for this in between feedings, diaper changes, and the craving for more sleep? So here's my advice - start with 15 minutes a day - have a tea, take a bath, lay quietly in your bedroom while your big sister holds your baby. These small moments help you gain perspective. Help you revive yourself.
There are so many more lessons I learned, but everyone learns their own in their own time. So trust yourself, take care of yourself and enjoy the moments. And in the tough moments, remember, this too will pass. You have a big family who is here to help you in every way we can. We love you!
Every night I go to bed, I have thoughts swirling in my head. Things to do. Scrapbook pages I want to create. Gifts I want to make. Skills I want to learn. And, of course, daily happenings that I don't want to forget, but invariably will by tomorrow morning, only to pop up in a random thought weeks down the road. So, here I am. I may use this blog daily to empty my head and heart before cuddling up in my duvet, or as it may be, I may write in it once a month. Who knows. It is for me, but perhaps something I write or learn may spark a fire in someone else. Perhaps it may quiet a mind or make you feel like you are not alone out there. It is for me. But perhaps it is for you.