Thursday, June 18, 2015

Dear soon-to-be-mommies

Dear soon-to-be-mommies:  

Hi.  

I feel compelled to write this because of recent events in my life.  I'm going to preface this whole letter to you by telling you that I love my children to the point where my heart physically aches.  

Now, moving on:

There are some of you who have read every article under the sun, discussed a multitude of topics with a plethora of mommies, and have even taken part of the raising of a child in some capacity or another.  There are others of you who have never even held a baby, who are terrified of what's to come, and who feel guilty because of that terror.  

There are some of you who have had magnificent pregnancies where you've been glowing from head to toe the entire time.  There are others of you who are convinced the "glow" is sweat...sweat that comes before and after puking throughout the whole. damn. pregnancy.

Some of you want to breastfeed, and some of you can't imagine restricting your life in that capacity.  Some of you want to use disposable diapers, and some of you will tackle cloth diapering.  Some of you will only allow fifteen minutes of educational screen time, and some of you are planing on raising your children on strict television diet of Archer and Jurassic Park.

Save for maybe that last one...I'm going to promise you - It's alright.  You've got this.

And, no matter what you choose, most of the time it's really not that big of a deal.  

Let me explain where I'm coming from on all of this.  I have been both a stay-at-home mom and a working mom.  I know what it's like to be home with my kids with very little support network (simply because of where we are geographically located) and I know the routine can be both ridiculously rewarding and absolutely grueling at the same time.  I have treasured the snuggles, the smiles, the baby milestones that I've witnessed only because of my time at home with them, and I've also locked myself in the bathroom for a minute and shed a few tears just because of the overwhelming loneliness and the longing for a newspaper and a cup of coffee (or a few shots of tequila with a good friend - it all depends on the day).  Every single day, no matter where I am at, or what the situation is, I take a deep breath and say "It's alright.  You've got this."

I chose to be a stay-at-home mom because of where we were at in life and the need for a stable environment for my children during tumultuous times.  I'm choosing to go back to work part-time because I feel like I'm a more patient mother who can spend better quality time with her kids after a couple of days of work.  After a ridiculous amount of time feeling guilty about this, I've realized that it's really not that big of a deal.  What works for me and for my kids is at the complete opposite end of the spectrum of what works for other families.  My daughter thrives in daycare, and other children do better at home.  One situation isn't particularly better than the other...and again, it's really not that big of a deal.  

Why am I stressing these points?  Because we are currently engrossed in a culture where everyone is an expert in something and the internet is teeming with articles on how to raise your kids to be intelligent/empathetic/hard-working/independent/compassionate/self-reliant and so on.  All of these opinions are helpful and wonderful, but not a single one of them will every completely work for your kid.  You have to figure out what works for you, and then dance away to those fresh, newly-discovered beats.

It goes beyond that, though.  This part of my letter to you is probably going to put me in a bit of hot water, but whatever:

There will be days where you wake up and think "I really just want to go out and get breakfast alone like I used to."  There will be days that your toddler is acting like an inconsiderate and slightly overbearing dictator, and you will be - literally - shaking with anger over the DUMBEST THING IMAGINABLE.  You will miss your old life, and there will be moments where you're holding your crying baby and you'll think "God...this kind of sucks."  

That's ok.  

When you realize that you are absolutely burnt out, find some capacity to "walk away."  Whether it's going for a long drive and burning a tank of gas while your kids sleep so you can sip on a coffee and listen to NPR, hanging out with a friend and quietly ranting about your children while they play in the other room, calling your mom and having a good cry...even actually physically walking away from your child who is on their second or third hour of screaming for a minute or two is completely alright.  Just like your kids, you will have good days and you will have bad days.  You know you're a good mommy when you find a way to start over.

That's not as hard as it sounds, really.  I can't tell you how many times my daughter has pissed me off to the max, only to come up ten seconds later and do something so stinking cute that my heart of stone melts into a puddle.  (Her newest trick is to come up to me when I'm clearly frustrated, sit down next to me and pat my leg like an old friend.  "Hi mommy.  How are you?  Are you feeling better?")

So.  Don't panic.  Try not to hyperventilate every time you look at the bassinet, and stop searching feverishly through message boards when you wake up in the middle of the night to pee.  You will have good days, you will have bad days - and you will be blown away by how much you love your little peanut regardless.  

And, if you need someone to be real with you who won't blow rainbows and sunshine up your ass every ten seconds - you know where to find me.

Love,
Pam

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