If I could go back to when I was a new mom, I would give myself so many nuggets of wisdom. Not, "Sleep when the baby sleeps," or "Don't be shy to ask for help." Those clichés were useless and added stress to my already ragged self. No, these are real tidbits that would save me so much wasted time and energy, and I think I would be in a much different place, if I knew then what I know now. Here are the things I'd tell myself, as a new mom.
1. Start choosing your mommy friends based on how they discipline their kids. So, you've joined a Mommy & Me based on birthdays? Awesome! Just because your kids are the same age does not mean you'll automatically have things in common with the moms. 6 months old is not too early to tell what kind of mom she'll be, so don't be shy. If her kid steals your kid's toy and she coos at him, saying, "Did my lil pumpkin-wumpkin like that ball? Did my jujube take the ball from his friend?" Ditch her.
2. Your kids will get older. But so will you. Every parent of an older (or adult) kid likes to remind you how you'll miss these days. But I think what those moms are secretly trying to say is that they miss being young, too. Instead of waiting for this rough patch to pass, appreciate the energy, the health, and extended family you have, while you can. Because *spoiler alert* it will pass.
3. Ponytails and messy buns are hairstyles. Just because you only used to wear them sparingly, doesn't mean they aren't awesome. Try to think of your new child as a hair style concierge. Sure, you may not like that you don't have time to primp, but at least you're trying something new! Silver lining, right?
4. Leave the monitor on your spouse's side. It took me until I was 7 months in with my third kid to realize this, but it's been a game changer. I still need to nudge him to wake him up, but it's so much better than slouching down the hall to the baby's room at 2 am, again.
5. Put down the books and pamphlets. You can read every letter of every parenting book that's ever been published in print or online, but the bottom line is that you should go with your gut. Trust yourself, and you'll be a much better parent for it.
6. Remember when you were a virgin? That's the same sex you'll have now. Let me re-word that. You're not going to have sex for a while, just like when you were a virgin. No, it won't last 18 years like the first time, but it'll be a while before you want it, and even then the first couple of times will probably be "pity sex" for your lonely spouse. When you hear about Irish Twins, you will always wonder, wide eyed, why you didn't have a libido for 6 months.
7. You're going to get depressed. Sometimes it will last for hours, maybe even days (for some, even longer). Occasionally it will be hormonal, others: longing for sleep/days past/freedom/help. There is so much pressure put on moms to be all and do it all, but it's ok to not be. You can leave the baby in PJ sleepers all day, and you don't need to do anything to please anyone else (mother-in-law, are you listening?).
and last, but not least:
8. Your kid doesn't have a huge ball sac or oversized labia. Yes, this gave me much to worry about, if only for a few days. On the other hand, my husband was quite pleased (why on earth large testicles are a good thing is still beyond me). As it turns out, the baby is still full of mom's hormones, and it makes the genitals enlarged. Girls can even have a bit of blood, like a mini period. This subsides within a few days, and you can go back to focusing on 1-7!
What would you tell yourself, if you could go back to the days when you were a new mom? Let me know!
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