By Dawna Matthews
Most of my younger friends start to ask for advice as they start planning for pregnancy and babies, and the first thing that pops into my head is “don’t listen to anyone else.” Well, that may come out sort of strange to those who are looking for advice, so I started to rethink this and went back a millennium to when I was expecting my one and only child, and was filtering through all the advice, good intentions, and nonsense I had received, as well as the wisdom I have come to realize.
My little one is almost 3 years old now, and it’s difficult for me to remember how overwhelmed and lost I was as a mother-to-be. I was caught between wanting someone to give me a “how-to” manual to “no, thank you – I’m all full on advice.” Well, upon reflection, I realize that I do have some gems to share, and here is what I came up with for you ladies (and gents too):
• To Plan or Not To Plan – Childbirth is a painful but beautiful day, whether you choose a natural birth, have a C-section, or use an epidural. I think it’s awesome to have something in mind, but don’t let “it” define or take you over. I remember other women asking me what my birth plan was — I didn’t have one. This started to give me major anxiety until I realized — I just want my baby to be born healthy. I wanted to have a natural childbirth with a mid-wife but with options of epidurals if needed. I went with the “my birth plan is not to have a birth plan.” One thing I’ve learned in life is that usually things turn out much differently from any plan, so if you don’t have one, you won’t be disappointed when things don’t go according to “the plan.”
• Be Yourself – Be true to who you are. If you don’t want to practice attachment parenting, then don’t. If you want to make your baby’s food, do it. Your parenting style is just that — your style. Don’t feel guilty if your style isn’t the same as your bff’s style or is different from your mother’s. What works for other families may not work for you and that is just exactly perfect. Pick what works for you out of the myriad of choices and make it work.
• If someone offers you help, stand up and say yes! – Don’t try to do everything yourself. You are not superwoman and probably do not have a magic wand. I found it so hard even to brush my teeth and take a shower, let alone send endless photos of Chloé’s supreme cuteness. When people offered me help, I said, “How soon can you be here?” This also applies to your partner: let him/her parent with you. Trust that he/she can soothe your baby and change diapers. It’s ok to be human and accept help; it doesn’t make you a bad mommy; it makes you human.
• Be Flexible – You will not be able to control a lot of things, and if you try to control everything, you may lose your mind and never sleep (which you won’t be getting too much of after the baby is born). You may think you will meet your friends at 1 in the afternoon for a play date and social time, but that just so happens to be when your sweet little muffin finally goes down to snoozetown, and the sleep health of your child is way more important than arriving at a barbeque on time. Enjoy and do what you can but it’s okay to change your mind or be late because things come up. Having children is an adventure every day, and it is the best reminder for me to just “go with the flow.”
• Trust yourself – Everyone has advice about what worked for them, but all parents and children are different. All you have to do is love your baby and yourself. At first, you will doubt yourself; but just stop, breathe, and do your best. People have been having
babies for centuries and there wasn’t an instruction manual.
• Cultivate patience, gratitude, and a sense of humor. Being a mommy highlights every little thing you didn’t know annoyed you, how precious time truly is, and how you can only laugh when things are swirling out of control and upside down. The truly great thing is that all of this is a phase; things will change — FAST — and that is usually when I think, “Someday I will really miss all this!”
If you are a mom-to be. What advice would you add to this? What is something you would tell new moms-to-be? We would love to hear from you.o-be or already a mommy, the take home message for my parenting philosophy is “it’s ok.” You will make mistakes — it’s ok, because you will perform countless miracles as well. You will miss sleeping in late — it’s ok, because you will be in the middle of a waffle-making marathon, and your little one will look up at you and say, “I love you, mommy” and your heart will melt. You will start to say ridiculous things out loud that your parents said to you — it’s ok because then you realize they were just as lost and going with the flow, and just as right, as you. Believe in yourself; know you are the perfect mom already, and just trust that everything is ok. This is your mantra for the next 24 months. Then you just have to figure out advice for the toddler years!