Five years ago today I became a mom. Wow!
So quickly we traded diapers for princess underwear; footie pajamas for Ariel nightgowns, breast milk for favored orange soda; rattles for Barbie dolls; mashed baby peas for chicken nuggets and cheese pizza; and “Mama” for “Maaaaaawwwm!”
And yet, as quickly as she has passed through the stages and entered full-blown childhood, I look in her big brown eyes and can still see the squishy, newborn face that made her first cry. I’m mesmerized.
She’s changed so much, and while I reminisce, I’m probably more surprised at how I’ve changed. When she was born, I had no idea what I was doing. Who does? I’d had my fair share of babysitting jobs and nanny gigs, I even had an advanced degree in child development, but nothing could have prepared me for the tremendously important and no-holds-bar position that is motherhood.
So I’ve compiled a list for you new, first-time mothers, in honor of my sweet Lily’s 5th birthday.
Things I wish someone would have told me (or that I would have believed when they did):
1. It’s OK to let her cry. If you’ve fed her, changed her, checked for obvious discomforts, and she still cries, that’s OK! Let her learn a few self-soothing techniques without running to fix her every distress.
2. You don’t have to stimulate her every waking minute. She will still learn and reach milestones if you don’t sing her the ABC’s 15 times each day in three languages.
3. A bit of television won’t be her demise. You want to avoid a miniature couch-potato, but a glimpse of the boob-tube won’t turn her brain to mush.
4. Breast feed if you can and for as long as you want. If you can’t or simply don’t want to, you’re not a bad mom.
5. Invest in a comfortable nursing bra. Your nipples will be sore so you shouldn’t deal with pokey wires or annoying fasteners. Get what works and spend the money.
6. You really don’t need all the fancy baby items major stores pimp. A wipe warmer’s nice, but the day will come when a room temperature wipe will shock her little system and simultaneously your ear drums.
7. A toddler can and will survive, in fact thrive, on a steady diet of goldfish crackers, hot dogs and pouched applesauce. If you can’t get her to gag down broccoli, she will soon enough, so don’t sweat it.
8. If you’ve had a glass of wine, every night, for several weeks in a row, don’t be alarmed. You aren’t necessarily an alcoholic- you’re a new mom and a little liquid relaxation might be just the ticket after a long, isolating day.
9. Try not to compare yourself to other moms. Be you. Make your own decisions based on what works for you, your child, and your family. Don’t try to squeeze yourself into a mold that wasn’t crafted to your dimensions. While you’re at it, try not to compare your child to other children too.
10. You aren’t perfect and she doesn’t expect you to be. Tell her you love her and give lots of kisses. Play with her. Tell her you’re sorry when you mess up. REPEAT.
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