As I've said, motherhood is rich and rewarding and truly blessed. As I've also said, I'm not yet a mother myself, but as I try to plan for it, I talk to a lot of friends who are new mothers, and I do a lot of research on it. What I've learned is that you really can't learn how to be a new mom – it just comes to you. No matter how much you prepare, there are things new moms may not know – and these are some of the most important ones.
1. Ensuing Insanity
Pretty much all the new moms I've talked to agree that, during the first year of the baby's life, insanity is pretty much par for the course. You will go crazy. If your baby starts sleeping more regularly sooner than that, then insanity will reign for a smaller amount of time, but one of the things new moms may not know is that it gets pretty bad – but it's completely normal. Your body is still alive with hormones, you aren't getting a lot of sleep, and your mind is constantly addled because you're worrying about your baby and about being the perfect mother. It happens, and it's okay.
2. It's Okay to Get Mad
It's also okay to get mad – and that happens, too. Everyone gets mad at their child at some point, no matter how impossible and outright unbelievable it seems. It won't even specifically be the baby causing you to feel angry, it's just the culmination of the situation. The baby doesn't understand and can't help the fact that he or she cries, or doesn't want to eat, or just peed three times in a row. It's okay to get angry – you just have to know how to vent and channel it.
3. Baby's First Personality
Babies have their own personalities. Sometimes they have a personality right from the start, sometimes it takes time to grow. One of the things new moms may not know is that, regardless of what they do or do not do, there are certain facets of the baby's personality that will come through no matter what. You can teach right from wrong, of course, and you can keep your child from throwing tantrums or getting spoiled, but a stubborn baby is probably going to be hard headed all his or her life. I'm living proof!
4. Love at First Sight
Lots of new moms are sure that they're going to fall in love with their new baby right at the gate, that they will think he or she is the cutest thing ever, and they feel awful if that doesn't happen – but it's totally normal! Newborn babies have gone through a horrific process. They are not necessarily beautiful. Some women will fall in love at first sight, but some won't – and that doesn't make you a bad mom. The two of you will bond, so don't sweat the small stuff or the smooshy face.
5. The Importance of Mistakes
Every new mom makes mistakes. That's not a failing, it's normal. In fact, it's vital. You're going to make mistakes – the end. This is actually good for the baby. When your child sees you make mistakes, he or she will also be able to see you fix your screw up and then say you're sorry for it. That's a much more valuable life lesson than being perfect all the time.
6. Take Care of You
One of the most important things new moms may not know involves taking care of themselves. You have to take care of yourself, and you have to make time for yourself. Don't sacrifice everything for your child, because it will ultimately be to the baby's detriment. Take time for the things you need to do; you're definitely not neglecting the baby by going on a walk, or taking the time to eat right.
7. The Conundrum of Growing up
Parenting is a conundrum. As your child gets up, it will get a lot easier … and it will also get way more difficult. There are rough stages to get through, still – like those dreaded teenage years. When your teenager starts talking back just because he or she is sixteen, just remember back to the days when you just wished your child could hold a conversation with you. Like I always tell my mom, be careful what you wish for!
Of all the things new moms may not know, I think the most important is this: if you love your child, you're a great mom. You can't keep your kids from getting hurt. You can't keep them safe throughout the entirety of their lives. However, you can be there for them when there is pain, when things are disappointing, when they hurt. You can let them always know they are loved and respected and accepted. What advice do you have for new mothers?
Top Photo Credit: Mini-DV