Wednesday, February 26, 2014

I Wish I Knew

If I could only go back and give my 22-year-old-new-mom self a pep talk... 

I would tell her stop comparing her birth, her recovery, her baby girl to her friends' stories and babies. 

I would tell her to just breathe baby Olive in like she was the last baby she would ever have. 

I would tell her that yes, she might be that person that all the Facebook memes demonize, who had an epidural, gave up on breastfeeding after 6 weeks and never co-slept with her infant - but that her formula-fed baby will grow up to be a beautiful, healthy four year old with an imagination the size of Texas, who is reading chapter books and writing stories and putting together 200 piece puzzles...and all the worrying and stressing and comparing will be such a huge waste of precious time. 

I would tell her that the instinct that God gave her is a powerful thing, and that she should trust it more.

I would tell her to not take what others say so personally. Everyone has free parenting advice and they'll always be eager to share it, and it's not necessarily an attack on you. Take everything with a grain of salt and carry on...

I would tell her to accept help when help is offered. It doesn't mean you can't handle everything. It doesn't mean you are a failure. It doesn't mean you are going to look weak. In the end, it really just means extra moments for you to just gaze at your beautiful baby and memorize every little detail about her. 

I would tell her to please not join any of these stupid, political "camps" we mothers like to set up to divide us, especially in our online worlds. (What'up with that, ladies?)  Holding to a specific parenting philosophy is fine and well (and it's fan-flipping-tastic if it works great for you and your kids!) but if it becomes more important to you than loving the other women in your life who are struggling or who are choosing a different path for themselves and their families, then priorities need reevaluating. Pronto.

I would tell her to love and cherish her husband. Always. I would tell her there will be a lot of times where choosing to love her husband will be hard, but that it will always always always be the right choice.

I would tell her that it's totally ok to talk to the doctor when the baby blues get to be too overwhelming. I would tell her there is no shame in asking for help. And I would tell her that talking to the doctor doesn't automatically mean it's time for a prescription - sometimes talking to the doctor means getting referred to a good counselor or just getting good common-sense advice like: take a little a time off once in a while and get your nails done, or take yourself out for a coffee. Sometimes the little things will make a huge difference.

I would tell her that one day, she will be hit with the reality that these days are much too brief. The sadness and bittersweetness of it will overwhelm her. So breathe that baby girl in... Memorize the littlest details and feelings and store them up in a safe, forever place in your heart, because the saying is true: "babies don't keep."

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