Time flies, they say. Moms, we know that it ain’t true when you are sleep-deprived for months and months. The days are long, but the years are short. What will you tell your younger self during the long days?
“A mother continues to labor long after the baby is born.”Lisa Jo Baker
On a beautiful sunny morning, I was hanging clothes just as any other day while my two kids mess the house away. Then a realization hit me: I’ve been a mom for almost five years now.
It’s during this time five years ago when I learned I was pregnant with my girl, when I saw and heard her fast heartbeat for the very first time and tears just unknowingly welled up in my eyes. Looking at that little heart from the black-and-white ultrasound screen, my own heart seemed to burst out of extreme joy and my instinct to protect was triggered from that day on.
It seems like a lifetime ago.
Yes, five years may seem a very short and trivial amount of time. But in terms of love, wisdom, and faith, I have grown in the field of motherhood.
Yes, I am still exhausted and drained every single day. But I still feel that I have a lot more to give. And I know that this is because of the grace of God. It has always been since day zero.
Yes, things are better now as compared to being a first time mom. It was only maternal love and instinct that served as my boat of survival. Other than that, I was a clueless, insecure, and lost passenger on that boat. It was only God’s hands that were moving the boat.
If I have some advice to give to myself as a first-time mom five years ago, these would be:
1. Things get better
Yes, they do. This is me saying five years into motherhood.
After a CS birth.
After relocating to a new country.
After series of postpartum depression.
After a VBAC.
After taming the terrible twos.
After my toddler just finished eating pieces of crayon. That’s me right now.
There are days that are good. There are days that are just worse. And there are the okay days.
Whatever days you have, tap yourself at the back, and say ‘Good job’. You are not failing at motherhood. And you are a good mom for trying so hard to do what is right for your kids.
2. Trust your instinct as a first-time mom
There will be times you’ll doubt yourself, a lot of times in fact.
There is no parent manual. We did not have curriculum courses on how to be a mother. The reality is, you just have to figure it out.
And don’t worry.
The moment you see your child for the first time, your maternal instinct will kick in. And kick in hard at that.
Guided by faith and wisdom, trust your instinct always.
3. Don’t be afraid to ask for help
After I first gave birth via CS, I was moved to my own room and I just wanted to rest from the operation. But then the nurse came in and brought my baby. I heard her cry.
Right then, right there. I knew that life was never gonna be the same again.
I can’t afford to be selfless anymore because another human being is entirely dependent on me now for survival.
I can’t afford to think of my own pain when she’s as helpless as she could be.
And it’s hard. You can’t do it alone.
You will be vulnerable physically from the birth.
You will be vulnerable mentally from sleep deprivation and tending to your newborn’s needs.
Ask for help.
4. Take lots of pictures, lots and lots of pictures
You may not have yet the time to organize your photos. But do take them. Then back them up by saving in an external hard drive or automate uploading them to a cloud drive.
Take high quality pictures of precious family memories. If you can, invest in a good, robust camera for this. You won’t regret taking in the high pixels of their small newborn faces. You’ll be able to capture those newborn cap flaking from their scalp and your heart will ache in places you never knew. Even those red rashes that kept you up all night and you though would never end will end, and you’ll look at the pictures with fondness and tears on your eyes.
Yes, moms. Take ’em. And take some more.
Because tomorrow, everything will be just precious memories either only on your head or on your photo albums.
5. And take lots of videos!
Videos take capture memories on another level.
You get to capture their voices, their babbles, and the noise from the surroundings. Even the hum-hums you’ll miss.
If only we could capture everything on photos and videos, we would! Make sure to back them all up automatically, so you won’t have to worry about losing your takes.
6. Take pictures of yourself with the kids
The early days will be like a haze. And then you have to recover from childbirth. Then you’d have to endure the sleepless nights.
Perhaps, you might have few pregnancy weight not shed yet. Or scars, physical and emotional.
When I became a mom, I was always hesitant to have my photos taken because I look like a zombie. Deep dark eyes. Dry skin. And just tired.
But I do take photos with my child. Secretly. Tucked away in my own album. Not on social media. Not anywhere.
And I get to see them now.
And what I thought then was a mundane trivial photo now become my forever treasure created in a time that I can never replicate.
They’re now displayed hanging on the walls of our home!
7. Aim to be a happy mom, not a perfect mom
In this age, mothers are more pressured than ever to achieve so many things.
Have a career.
Raise perfect children.
When all the while, perfection is entirely impossible. Asking perfection denies the fact the complexities of human nature.
What we can only do is our do our best. And sometimes, that is enough.
As long as it’s not a matter of life and death situation, learn to let go of control over things.
8. Write, write, then write more
Write your story, mom!
Write it on Instagram, on a piece of paper, or start your own momblog.
However you write your story, just write it.
You may thought your thoughts are not valid, or you’re seeing things differently just because you’re tired. But it’s your story. We all have unique experiences in motherhood.
Whenever you felt that the clouds are low and dark, it really was. So please write it down. You need to release your heart, no matter how lonely it feels and how unreciprocated it will be.
Motherhood is exhausting physically and mentally. Motherhood is rewarding emotionally. Motherhood is a rollercoaster ride with extreme highs and downs.
No one knows your own story of motherhood like you do!
9. Thank your mom
‘There are certain things that you understand only when you become a mother yourself.’
That reality hit me hard when I became a mom.
I saw my mom in a different light.
I understood why she did the things I never understood then.
As a working mom and main provider of our family, I learned how she loved us in spite of all the difficulties.
I now say the things she used to say.
I realised later on that we truly become our mothers when we parent our own children.
And how she loves my children!
I firmly know that there is no other person in the world that would love my children more than my husband and I than our own moms.
A mother’s heart truly is deep.
10. Pray girl, pray!
During the happy days, pray. During the lowest of low days, pray hard.
Even one Hail Mary a day, just pray.
Go to Mass, consult a confessor, and pray the Rosary. Just pray.
Pray for your children. Pray for your husband.
Because no matter how much effort we put in, only the grace of God can sustain our strength.
God entrusted these children to you. And He wants you to ask for His help when you are having difficulties.
There’s just no other way. Praying obtains things.
So pray, girl. Pray!