I recently wrote a note to a friend of mine who is about to become a mom for the first time. It was a short note, but still brought back a flood of memories of my first few weeks and years, and an entirely different flood of disbelief that I’m at a place in parenthood to be able to impart wisdom to new moms. When did THAT happen?
I didn’t say everything I wanted to (like that bit about sleep deprivation interfering with bonding… and the darkness of the first few months… and the unbelievable array of poop colors) but perhaps brevity is better in notes like these. For all the things new mothers may need, more advice is not one of them.
Violet, you’ll be getting the unabridged version of this letter when your time is drawing near. But for the rest of you, here are my right-now reflections.
To my friend –
There are at least a thousand things I wish I could tell you about motherhood – lessons I have learned along the way. Things I wish someone had said to me. But the truth is, each mother has to learn most of those lessons on her own, in the trenches.
In lieu of the thousand lessons, I will just share a few random thoughts that have shaped my path as a mother in the hopes that one or two of these resonate with you as well.
I heard somewhere that “how you spend your days is how you spend your life”. Or maybe it was “how you spend your minutes is how you spend your days”. I can’t remember. But the idea that all the tiny choices are what add up stuck with me, helping me to live a little bit more in the present and less for the future.
My belief that women have a tendency to hitch their identity to the next passing wagon was confirmed throughout my first years as a mom. It took me a while to re-realize that even on my best super mom days, I am nothing if I am not first a child of God. If the children, husband, home, job, friends, insert-other-important-thing disappeared tomorrow, the life sustaining connection should be alive and well. This isn’t an earth shattering revelation to you, I’m sure, but I suppose I’m just saying these waters get a bit murkier as you move into parenthood.
Also: Bittersweet nostalgia is about to bite you good and hard in the behind. The daily revelations that your baby is growing up/changing/never returning to the way she was yesterday are both beautiful and heartbreaking. At times, physically painful. If you aren’t careful, contentment can be elusive. Chase it wholeheartedly, and be prepared to counter each blithe “they grow up so fast, don’t they?” with an honest “and I’m enjoying every minute”.
Because she WILL grow up too fast. And you WILL enjoy every minute.