Spinning around in my living room, I was completely overwhelmed and drowning in the newborn days of first-time motherhood. The dishwasher. The bed. The laundry.
How do people do all of this? How do they take care of kids and the house? How do they have any time for themselves at all?
The feeding. The laundry (have I mentioned the laundry?). And oh, the diapers.
Just then, the phone rang. I let out a sigh of exasperation and answered with a weak and feeble sounding “hello?”
“Hi dear. I want to bring you dinner sometime this week. Which day would you like it?”
“Thank you. Is tonight too soon?”
The floodgates of my tears opened and I let out an audible sob.
“Of course not. I’ll be there at 5.”
This God-send of a woman didn’t just bring one dinner: she brought two. And dessert! I didn’t have to cook for the rest of the week.
When you’re expecting your first child, you know motherhood will change you, but you can’t understand what that actually means until you hold your newborn in your arms.
You expect there to be some sleepless nights. You expect to be a little more emotional. You may even expect your marriage to go through some growing pains.
But what I didn’t expect was to feel totally engulfed and buried by the seemingly simple and routine chores of everyday life.
When I think back on my maternity leave, I felt like I was in a constant mental hustle. And tears. I remember a lot of tears.
Time passed and our daughter grew. I found our “new normal” and started to feel like myself again. Truthfully, it wasn’t until our second daughter was born that I realized just exactly how extremely stressed and anxious I was with our first.
The second time around, I was far more able to enjoy the newborn stage. I wasn’t as flustered when she cried. I didn’t hear the many well-intentioned, but overwhelming, pieces of advice in my head. There was more clutter around the house than I typically like to have – and it was ok.
I even remember thinking to myself “what in the world was I so stressed out about with one child? This is much easier…”
And you know what I think the difference was? Experience.
Being a first-time mom is hard. And literally everything is new. And for me, having multiple children has made me a better mother.
Being a mother takes practice, and practice takes time. All of that experience continually shapes who you are and how you interact with your children.
Comparison is the thief of joy
If my “plan for the day” doesn’t work out (ha, does it ever?) I know there’s always another way. If my child isn’t always dressed and picture-perfect, no biggie. If I have to sing and dance like a fool down the aisles of Lowe’s to keep them happy, sure, no problem.
I have learned that comparison really is the thief of joy. Milestones are exciting, but childhood is not a race.
I care less about what others think. I am not afraid to ask for advice when I need it, but also know I can trust my own instinct. I have more realistic expectations of not only myself, but my children.
I have learned what really matters and what I can let go of. I have gotten better at being still and being at home. I have seen how the best moments cost the least amount of money. I have learned the value of time and how no matter what, I’ll never have enough of it. I know now that I don’t have to divide my heart between my children – it just continues to grow exponentially in size with each addition.
There are things I wish I could redo as a first-time mom, things I want to hold onto, and things to release. But I am grateful for those experiences because they are what continually makes me a better mother, day after day, year after year.
Reprinted with permission from Okie Sunshine.