A discussion at my moms' group mentioned the feeling of motherhood and the changes it has brought to our lives. Every mom vented their emotions, stress, and exhaustion but, we didn't fail to make sure we finished on a happy note. The conversations we had made me wonder: How have I changed as a person and interpersonally? How do I feel about myself day to day? Have I been empowered as both a person and a woman?
I feel reborn, my life has taken new direction now that I have Layla. Motherhood has given me the opportunity to discover my true character. I have unraveled new personal traits which I would like to develop and also some habits I want to kick to the curb. I make sure everyday has purpose and I give myself little missions to make sure I feel like I have completed something. I understand why moms wake up early (It's the only way to get anything done!). Partying with friends and family is a rare privilege and no longer a necessity every weekend. I find myself overwhelmed with fulfillment having dinner with my husband and daughter beside me. I can now appreciate the simple things in life; a cozy movie, giving my little one a goodnight kiss, and the Hershey's with Almonds that my husband brings to me. Layla has taught me more about life then any textbook ever could.
I literally stop to smell the roses!
Motherhood isn't only sugarplum fairies, gum gum trees, and flying unicorns though. There are nights where I can't remember my head hitting the pillow, nights where I don't recall sleeping, and entire days of a fussy Layla. I wouldn't trade any of my days with Layla for anything. She has given me patience, both with her and the world. I have learned who I am through her. I am more honest with myself and have begun to develop my identity. Ahhh, I feel so relieved to say that after 24 years of searching I think I may have found myself!
I decided to share some advice I found for new parents. A lot of these themes are presented at our Moms group, so if you are/were/will be a new parent at one point, I am sure you can relate.
Top Ten Tips for New Parents:
(from WarmLines Parent Resources)
- Expect Stress: Becoming a parent is a major life transition. All transitions are accompanied by some degree of stress. Depending on how you deal with it is all the difference!
- Join a new parents group: I highly recommend this! Start by searching online, churches, hospitals...etc. It is nice to be reassured that your thoughts and feelings are normal. Also, the friendships are unlike any other.
- Accept help: Although you may feel like superwoman after giving birth, accept that you are not. Everyone needs help at first. It's normal! When someone is stopping by and asks if you need anything, the 'old' you might say 'no', but this time, stop and think about the answer. They may have time to stop and pick that candy bar you've been craving for 3 days.
- Believe in yourself: You DO know what is best for your baby. Everyone wants to give you advice, most of which is crap. You need to be able to sort through everything and decide which advice you want to take (with a grain of salt) and which advice to toss.
- Forgive yourself: Making mistakes are human. There isn't a manual for parenthood, so trial and error is the only way of figuring out what is best for you and your new family.Even the "experts" often disagree what is "best for baby".
- Lower your expectations of yourself: Remember you have a new baby depending on you for every need. Let go of any guilt caused by unfinished chores or not being able to attend a party hosted by friends or family. It is important to set aside time for yourself and spend time with your new family.
- Ask questions: These can be questions about help, or just to reassure yourself that something is normal. Make sure the answer is coming from someone with credibility. Be ready for surprises; you may find yourself making changes that you didn't think were possible.
- Remember who you used to be: It's normal to dwell on the past, even when the present is more than enough to cope with. Ask your pre-baby friends to stay in touch and be patient while you adjust to your new life. When the time is right, return to some of your former hobbies and activities.
- If you have a partner, remember that your relationship and that person is evolving too!: Try to spend some meaningful time with your significant other. Respect each other's parenting style. Talk about your hopes and fears. I found myself trying to have my husband hold her a different way, or bounce "this way instead". I realized that Layla was fine with the way he was doing it and I found myself stepping on his toes when it wasn't necessary. (<- He read that and chuckled!)
- Enjoy your baby: The childhood years actually pass very quickly. Every time your child achieves another exciting milestone, it means they have taken one more tentative yet eager step away from babyhood and you have taken one more step toward becoming confident, experienced parent.
Relax. Breathe. Enjoy.