Nowhere is the expression “the days are long, but the years are short” more fitting than when we’re talking motherhood. When I was home on mat leave with my first child, by 5pm you'd often find me with my forehead pressed against the front window, mentally willing my husband’s car to pull into the driveway. Those early days felt painfully long. But twelve years later, I long for those days, painfully.
Life has definitely sped up. When I look at my two children today I think, “Where did my babies go?!”
That sweet baby smell has been replaced by, “Oh dear god; please go have a shower.” Mushy peas and animal crackers no longer line our pantry shelves. My tweens want humus wraps and sushi and kale chips. Raffi has given way to rappers. And tiny shoes have morphed into giant cleats and roller blades and clunky Timberland boots because “they’re the coolest, mum.”
They grow up crazy fast. Everybody tells you that, but when you’re “in it” it just doesn’t seem possible. Looking back now, I can see it clearly and can confirm its truth. Childhood does indeed go by in a blink-of-an-eye. But in those early “sleep-deprived I have no idea what I’m doing” days, time stretched out before us like a seemingly endless road—a road filled with crazy twists and unexpected turns. Motherhood is the ultimate road trip. Without a map. Or brakes.
Here are ten things I’ve learned along the road:
You WILL worry,
but try to keep it in check. When our second child was diagnosed with a rare chromosome disorder, I worried myself sick and spent countless hours combing the internet, searching for answers. I wasted so much time and energy on “what ifs” that never happened. Nine years later our daughter is amazing. She has special needs, but we’re handling each challenge as it comes. It really is the best way.
2. You’re going to lose your cool and freak out over spilled milk. But when you do, take a breath and calm yourself. Then apologize and move on. It’s just one of those bumps along that motherhood road. There will be lots of bumps, but you’ll still get where you’re going.
3. Admit when you’re wrong. Kids learn big lessons from our little mistakes. Nobody is perfect. Teach them this lesson early on.
4. Spoil your kids awesome
by bragging about them secretly, but within their earshot. Kids are more likely to believe it if they think they’re overhearing your praise instead of “you’re just saying that because you’re my mum.”
Play music, explore nature, volunteer, get a pet, make art, play games.
Life is the most fun when it’s loud and messy.
6. Make a binder for each child with labeled sections to store vaccination records, notes about doctor’s appointments, a growth chart to plot height and weight (by month when they’re young and by season as they get older). Keep a copy of the final report card from each grade in there too, as well as a page to jot down the funny things they say. As the saying goes, “Kids say the darndest things” but we forget those quips so quickly. Why is this important? It’s not really, but it sure is nice to have all of these milestones in one spot.
7. Take a photo of each child in the same pose, with the same backdrop if possible—every month or a pic per season. I didn’t do it, but I sure wish I did. What an amazing slideshow or collage this would make to document their growth through the years.
8. Teach kids that an occasional “selfie” is okay, but being selfish is not. Let’s not raise a generation of entitled narcissists if we can help it.
9. Don’t fix your child’s every mistake. This tidbit of advice is coming from a serial Bubble Wrapping Mom… I struggled/am struggling with this one. I hope you do better. Be strong. It’ll make them stronger.
10. Make “I love yous” a daily ritual. I made my son sign a contract promising he would allow me to hug and kiss and cuddle him until he was 99 years old. I know this contract is not legally binding, but worth a shot.
Wishing you the sweetest ride along the road of motherhood,
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